Are You Trying to Market God?

megaphone-1381104_1920Sharing our faith is tough. We want to be sensitive to our listener, and more than anything, we long to see them experience the deep love of Christ. But so often, our efforts are filtered through a heavy lens of self. This can result in an effort to market God and to love others on an agenda. Today, fellow ACFW member Emilie Hendrix

Are You Trying to Market God? 

by Emilie Hendryx

In today’s media-saturated culture we are in tune with marketing in a way that no one has been before. It’s everywhere we look, whether we’re at the grocery store, mall, bookstore, fitness center, or just driving down the road. We market pretty much everything from objects, food, thought processes, books, people, and faith.

But has this marketing-centric culture negatively affected us as Christians? I think it has, and I’d like point out three things that we can fall prey to when we try to “market God”.

Marketing tells you why “they” think you need it

At first glance this could sound like a good thing. And I agree, we do need to tell others about God! But, how we go about doing that is what’s important here. When we try to “market God” to those around us we can often pinpoint an “issue” (maybe this is an obvious sin etc.) and then make it our job to make sure that person knows why they need God.

The issue here isn’t in the sharing (that’s the good part) it’s in the heart of those who share and how they share. Do we share the gospel from a heart that overflows with love for others? Or a heart that shares in arrogance and condemnation?

Marketing tells why the “product” is the best, but leaves things out

I believe that a relationship with Christ is the only way to heaven. Sharing that is easy and personal. But, part of the difficulty when we try to “market God”, is that we can be tempted to leave out the hard parts. Sometimes it’s hard to stand up for what you believe in, especially in today’s culture. I know there are things I believe that set me apart from others. The temptation here is to gloss over, ignore, or not address these things when talking about the gospel.

Jesus is the perfect example of what to do in order to resist the temptation to “market God”. He took no effort to hide His affiliation with those who were considered unloved, forgotten, despised, or labeled as sinners in His day. But what did He do while he spent time with them? He spoke the truth. Just like when He had a conversation with the woman at the well (John 4). He told her to “go and sin no more” – so, to walk away from her sinful lifestyle – but He didn’t ignore her.

In our culture, it’s almost assured that we’ll be faced with someone challenging our beliefs. Don’t give in to the temptation to “market God” to make Him look “better” or “more accepting” or less “judgmental” just because you’re afraid you’ll make Him look bad (or afraid you’ll look bad). If your faith and understanding is rooted in Biblical truth and you’re speaking from a place of love and peace, then His truth will be conveyed.

Marketing is incentivized

 In our current culture it is almost a guarantee that any major brand you see worn by a celebrity is most likely due to the fact they got it in exchange to talk about/show real-estate-agents-1537461_1920off/or represent that product. I run an Etsy shop and have a Society6 shop where I create bookish products to sell and I choose “Reps” for my brand. These are people who pledge to represent my brand and my products on their Instagram accounts. I don’t pay them to say nice things about my products, but they choose to Rep for me because they like my products and believe in them. This is not the case all the time however. There are many companies who pay people to Rep for them in addition to giving them products for free.

I can’t help but feel a little cheated when I see a celebrity talking about something they “love” only to find out they are getting paid to say those things. Doesn’t it make it seem as if all of their kind words, though probably drawn from real experiences with the product, are tainted?

I think the same can happen with Christians who “market God”. This comes to the heart of it all. To the why of sharing the gospel with others. Are we trying to “market God” because we a) think He needs our help b) think its “the right thing to do” c) feel pressure or guilt to do it d) like the attention we get when we look smart in front of others or e) another answer I haven’t thought of…?

The reasons we should share the gospel (and not market it) come from His commands to us to go and spread the gospel (Matthew 28:16-20, Acts1:8) paired with a heart that overflows with love for our Savior and the overwhelming realization that we cannot keep this Good News to ourselves.

I don’t know you (most likely), so what I say here is largely taken from what I see myself falling prey to. In March on my blog I focus on Marketing and Social Media for writers and authors and, as I contemplated what I wanted this post to be about, I realized that I may do a good job at marketing products and books, but I cannot let that negatively affect my faith.

west-826947_1920I can’t expect to go out “into the world” and arrogantly tell others why they are wrong and need the Lord, but I can share my personal experiences with them and pray for the Holy Spirits conviction in their hearts. I can’t try and make Christianity look “better” or gloss over the heavy issues because I serve a Big God who handles the tough questions. And I can’t have any other motivations aside from desiring to share the hope that I have (1 Peter 3:15) with those around me.

Have you struggled with trying to “market God”? Which of these three things can you relate with most? What other things (positive or negative) do you see that have been influenced by this “marketing society” we live in?

***

Emilie is a freelance writer and photographer living in Dayton, Ohio. She’s a member of ACFW and writes romantic square-mesuspense while dreaming up YA Sci-Fi worlds on the side. She’s got a soft spot in her heart for animals and a love for the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time you can find her designing fun bookish items for her Etsy and Society6 shops all while drinking too much coffee.

Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, follow her on Twitter and Pinterest, and visit her online at her blog, Thinking Thoughts.

 

 

 

In Honor of An Amazing Woman

dianaThere are some people in life that you wish you knew. That you know, had you had the time to connect with them over coffee, or to simply overhear their daily conversations, you’d be better. Stronger. More impactful. Because impactful people inspire others to be impactful.

I regret to say, I didn’t know Diann Hunt, other than what I read on her blog or what I saw on Facebook. And quite honestly, I didn’t really start to pay attention until I learned the devastating news… She had ovarian cancer. Having a grandmother who died from that silent killer, I worried how this author’s fight might end.

But more than that, I marveled at the way she fought. Not so much how she fought the disease itself, but how she fought all those other things that can accompany terminal illness, those things like:

Bitterness

Fear

Defeat

Withdrawal and isolation

She might have “lost” her valiant fight against cancer, but she went home victorious, for even when the claws of death sank deep into her frail frame, she prevailed, and showed the world what it means to have a peace that surpasses understanding, a love that extends far beyond ones self, and a joy based on something much more eternal, much more real, than anything we can grab hold of in this sin ravished world.

She showed the world what Christianity is all about. It’s one thing to say you have faithdelight yourself3 when the blessings abound. It’s another thing entirely to not only cling to that faith but radiate it from your very core when your world falls apart. She lived that which she wrote about.

That was the type of faith Diann had, and her impact will not soon be forgotten.

Today, the ACFW community honors this precious woman of the faith.

To read more about Diann Hunt, her life, her writing, and the impact she made on so many, visit the following blogs:

Trish Perry: www.trishperry.com
Julie Arduini: www.juliearduini.com

If God Loves Me, Then Why Does He Wait?

As our daughter nears fifteen, she’s beginning to dream about driving and college and all those rights of passage that signify adulthood. (She’s already planned the furnishings for her college dorm room … and her future house, career, basically, the next twenty years of her life.)

She thinks she’s so ready, but often, my husband and I must hold her back. Not because we don’t love her, but instead, because we do. We know the vital steps that must occur, the growth that needs to take place, the dangers that await if we allow too many privileges and responsibilities before the proper time. We know there’s imperative character traits, like perseverance, inner grit, determination, that must be developed.

I believe God is the same way. He has an omniscient view of our lives. He sees our past, present, and future. He knows every obstacle we’ll face, every blessing that’ll come our way. Most importantly, He sees us not as we are, but as He plans to make us–a beautiful masterpiece ready to do His will.

Today, Fay Lamb, author of Because of Me, looks at disappointments through God’s sovereignty and loving Father’s heart. She reminds us, no matter what comes our way, God wants us to trust and obey. Trust His love, His goodness, His tender care.

God Loves Me More Than That by Fay Lamb

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD,

thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

Life verses—they abound, and Jeremiah 29:11 is among the most quoted. As an author who feels that God has called me to write, I cling to verses such as this. For me, they prove that God’s love is a blanket of warmth against the coldness of a sometimes harsh reality.

The writer’s life is like a rollercoaster with moments of high exhilaration and days of deep despair. Times when all is right with the world, and then there are those occasions when a writer wants to crawl into a cave and hide from the very world where before all was bright and sunny.

God says in Jeremiah 29:11 that He knows the thoughts He has toward me. He declares those thoughts are kind and not evil, and He wants to give me a future of hope. When I meditate on this verse, I imagine this is God’s way of saying, “Daughter, I have a plan for you. Trust and obey.”

Often I hold my hand out to God, asking Him to lead me toward a writing contract, an encounter with someone, even an idea to build a story. Like a child, I want my prayers answered easily and immediately.

But God loves me more than that.

I do not like rejection, but is it truly rejection when God has designed the plan and I am walking in obedience to Him? No, it’s a step. I must trust God and move forward even when the path is rough and harrowing.

I do not like to be unsettled in my spirit, yet criticism has a way of doing that. Truth given in love, however, is one of a writer’s most valuable assets. The sting at first may leave me uncomfortable, but when I come to terms with it and take the suggested steps to improve my writing, my spirit is filled with the peace that God promises.

When I start out on a trip, I am the one who likes to know every stop along the way. Trust and obey means that I trust God when he doesn’t tell me each leg of my journey. My life as an author may take unexpected turns.

I have purposed in my heart to remain content with any direction God purposes in my writing career. In fact, I’ll be satisfied on whatever road He places me. My future hopes rest in Him and not in my desires, and God has promised a future better than any I can dream.

BIO

Fay Lamb works as an acquisition/copyeditor for Pelican Book Group (White Rose Publishing and Harbourlight Books), offers her services as a freelance editor, and is an author of Christian romance and romantic suspense. Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Because of Me, her debut romantic suspense novel will be released on February 3, 2012, by Treble Heart Books/Mountainview Publishing.

Fay has a passion for working with and encouraging fellow writers. As a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), she co-moderates the large Scribes’ Critique Group and manages the smaller Scribes’ critique groups. For her efforts, she was the recipient of the ACFW Members Service Award in 2010.

In 2012, Fay was also elected to serve as secretary on ACFW’s Operating Board.

Fay and her husband, Marc, reside in Titusville, Florida, where multi-generations of their families have lived. The legacy continues with their two married sons and five grandchildren.

Because of Me:

Issie Putnam’s life took a detour the night she was raped at gunpoint in front of her fiancé, Michael Hayes. Instead of marrying Michael, a promising young investigative reporter, Michael, along with the man who attacked her, and the man who held the gun on Michael, are imprisoned for conspiracy to assassinate the local district attorney—a crime Michael was trying to expose but had no intention of committing. Issie’s name is ruined, she lost her perfectly-planned future, but she gained Cole, her son—born of that rape.

On the eve of her attacker’s parole, Michael, already released from prison, follows through on his plan to return to the small town of Amazing Grace and protect Issie from the madman who promised to seek revenge. There, he meets Issie’s seven-year-old son for the first time.

Can Michael learn to love the child Issie holds so close to her heart? Will Michael be able to protect the woman he loves from the man who will stop at nothing to destroy them all?

Purchase the book at Amazon.

Let’s talk about this!

Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about our disappointments, hopes, and dreams and try to view them through our Father’s eyes. How does trusting in God’s love for you, His plan for you, His continual care, help you persevere? If you’re a parent, how has your experience as a parent changed your understanding of God? Has there been a time when you’ve been able to look back on a delay or detour that, although painful at the time, turned out to be a blessing?