No! Wow, this could be my shortest post ever. With such a simple, to the point answer, there can’t be much more to add. The truth is, opinions aren’t what we seek in this world. No one wants your opinion and no one wants to hear other people’s opinions but there is something we are all after.
Your opinion may only be valued if it is offering your approval.
I can’t think of anyone who likes to be told, “You didn’t do a good job.” Most do not like to hear, “You did well, but there are areas that need improvement.” The only thing worse is being told, “I don’t care if it was good or bad, I didn’t approve of your premise in the first place.”
If we don’t like being told our job was subpar or could use more work, if we hate it when others do not approve of our premise or approach, then why would we think that anyone else is interested in our opinion unless it is unconditional approval of their choices and actions?
Has this become the main influence on the way we share our faith?
In the last twenty-five plus years there has been a shift in churches across North America. Faith in Jesus Christ has become a marketable product. The fundamentals of marketing are rooted in mass appeal. Mass appeal is based on positive consumer approval ratings. The best way to make a product sell is to seek opinions that reflect positively on your product. There are two ways of doing this. One is to stifle all negative opinions including ones that don’t like it, think it needs improvement, or fundamentally disapprove of what you are trying to sell. The other way is to try to make your product palatable for the vast majority of people.
There is an upside to the marketing model used in the presentation of our faith.
The movements that sought to market Christianity to North America both positively and negatively affected our ability as Christ followers and as a collective of Christ followers to present Christianity as a desirable way of life. As much as it may go against everything we hold dear when it comes to how we celebrate and understand our Christian walk, tradition and corrupted theology had overtaken much of the church in North America.
The words we used and the rules we created did little to bring the simplicity of salvation to the average nonbeliever and, if we are truthful with ourselves, did little to further the growth of existing Christ followers. To market any product you need to explain its benefits in simple terms that create not only an understanding of what the product is, but also a desire to acquire this product because it is needed to make life more complete.
Using a marketing strategy as an outreach plan required us to rethink the Christianise we had adopted and the rules we had created as if they were biblical truth. This was a positive move in the right direction.
There was a downside to the marketing model used in the presentation of our faith.
Marketing has one purpose and one purpose only. A marketing campaign is considered effective only if it sways the public to change their current purchasing habits. The purpose of marketing is to get people to switch, anything less is a failure. If they won’t switch then the message must be changed. Leaving out the side effects, lifestyle changes or negative responses to your new choice is often the best approach. Remember, marketing isn’t about opinion unless that opinion is one of approval.
The simplicity of salvation became a watered down, feel good attempt to convince the average nonbeliever that they should buy into our product, and it worked, at least in some churches. Anything to get their approval and their butts in the pews. They bought into a get out of Hell free card, and of course if they act now, not only will they get this card but we will also include a free pass to our weekly Sunday morning show.
Using a marketing strategy as an outreach plan required us to rethink how appealing biblical truth is. Let’s be honest, in most people’s opinion, Christ follower or Christ denier, biblical truth isn’t that appealing to our sin nature.
It is time to accept that there will be differing opinions rather than seek approval.
If there is going to be a revival in North America we will need to change what we seek in this world and in the church. The church must first exist to teach truth to those who attend regardless of their opinion. Our measure of success is not how many people approve of our message but instead does God approve of the message. I would rather have no one agree with the truth than everyone approve of half-truths or lies of omission.
Once the unwatered down complete truth is part of the church we can then present that same truth to those God brings into our lives regardless of their opinion. Our measure of success is not how many people approve of our message but instead does God approve of the message. I would rather have no one agree with the truth than everyone approve of half-truths and lies of omission.
There is a first step you and I can take right now.
Tell the truth in love and in portions that can be digested by those God brings into your life. Do not judge your effectiveness on their approval but instead on their understanding of what you have presented. Ask for their opinion; this way whether they agree or not, you will know if there is need for clarity and/or further discussion.
Are People Really Interested in Other People’s Opinion?
Christ followers who present the truth are.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10 (NIV)