Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Spirit of Grace Ministries
-- Feeding Jesus' sheep
-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

God's Marketing Agent: The Holy Spirit

by Dennis Pollock

Years ago I saw an ad that I never forgot: "In theory all you have to do is build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door, but in practice it takes a little marketing." When I saw the ad, I immediately knew there was truth in what they were saying, and sensed that even in the things of the kingdom of God, there was a lesson to be learned. Even if you had developed some kind of high-tech computerized mousetrap that would rid your entire neighborhood of mice and keep them away for the next fifty years, and you could sell it for $1.95, unless you made people aware of your product it would sit on your shelves unsold. Until there is public awareness, no product, regardless of how excellent and superior it may be, is going to sell.

The business world knows this full well and corporations spend huge amounts of money on marketing. They hire high-powered marketing agencies which devote themselves to getting their name and their products burned into the consciousness of the public. Well paid marketing agents spend long hours sitting around and dreaming up ad campaigns and strategies that will turn little known products into household names. In the 1950's very few women colored their hair. It was considered something a Hollywood starlet or low-class woman might do, but not for the average woman. The Clairol company decided to do something about that. They started a campaign for both magazines and television centered around a question: "Does she or doesn't she?" followed by the line: "Only her hairdresser knows for sure." They used beautiful and wholesome-looking women and very quickly turned the industry around. This simple advertising blitz became one of the most effective ad campaigns of all time. It is reported that within six years 70% of adult women were coloring their hair and Clairol's sales increased a whopping 413%. Within a short time hair coloring revenues exploded from $25 million annually to $200 million.

Goals of Marketing

All of this may seem out of place in the context of Jesus Christ and His church, but it is not so much as some might think. The two goals of marketing are: 1) to make a product or company known, and 2) to make that product or company look attractive to people. The product that we Christians have to offer the world is the greatest product of all. Of course it is not really a product but a Person: Jesus Christ and His gift of eternal life. And we are not selling Him, we are offering Him freely. With the greatness of our "Product" and the fact that He comes without cost, one might think our job would be the easiest thing in the world. In fact it is not. We believers are not always particularly adept in our marketing. And man's instinctive bias toward selfishness makes the message of the cross an offense to most.

The good news is that God has provided His own Marketing Agent, the Holy Spirit. A simple statement by Jesus in the gospel of John reveals this: "He (the Holy Spirit) will glorify Me…" It is one of the Holy Spirit's assigned tasks to make Jesus known and to make Him look exceedingly attractive to men and women. He began doing this as soon as Jesus arrived as He revealed to old Simeon and Anna that the Messiah Israel awaited was now present. As Jesus went around choosing His disciples, the Holy Spirit was on the job, revealing Him as the Christ, the Son of the living God. At Jesus' death on the cross He was still doing it, showing the centurion in charge of things as well as the thief dying next to Jesus that this was the Son of God. And He is still doing it today.

Some people are far more adept at marketing than others. In their book, "Secrets of Power Marketing" Peter Bender and George Torok write:

Consider two of the world's greatest artists: Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. Today, their paintings are worth millions. They are celebrated and renowned masters of their craft. But how successful were they when they were alive? Van Gogh was a genius at painting. However, he was also very introverted and shy. He couldn't talk to people. As a result, he was a total failure at communicating and never managed to promote himself or his work. He died a frustrated and nearly penniless man. Picasso, on the other hand, was good at both. He was not afraid to express himself and be noticed. He wore big hats. He was a showman. He was able to sell his ideas. Despite the fact that Picasso's artistic style was ahead of his time... he was very successful during his life, because he was an excellent communicator.

Marketing Genius

Proper marketing makes a huge difference. But in the kingdom of God we are not limited by or dependent upon our personalities. We depend completely upon the greatest marketing Genius the world has ever seen, the One who has unlimited resources and unmatched wisdom and intelligence: God the Holy Spirit. We do not have to wear large hats or act like a showman. What we must do is trust the Holy Spirit to do His work, and follow Him as He leads us in the great task of magnifying and glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ. Whether shy or outgoing, whether extremely talented or not so much, whether loaded with personality or barely having any personality at all, whether possessing beautiful face and dazzling smile or plain face and crooked grin, we can work in partnership with the Holy Spirit to make Jesus known and look good to those around us.

And the Holy Spirit is so creative at arranging circumstances by which Jesus may be glorified! In the beginning of professional football's 2011 season the Denver Broncos had a young Christian backup quarterback named Tim Tebow sitting on their bench. When the first-string quarterback led the team to four losses in the first five games, Tebow stepped in and never looked back. He was not the typical NFL quarterback. He seemed to like to run the ball as much as pass it. His passing stats were about the poorest in the league, finishing the year with a completion percentage of under 47%. Yet somehow he managed to win games. However even his wins were not normal. He almost always started poorly, brought the fans to the brink of giving up, and then in the fourth quarter he caught fire and won game after game in the last minutes. It was thrilling football for the Denver fans to watch, as their team was transformed from losers to contenders.

"Tebowmania" reached its zenith in the first game of the playoffs. Against the Green Bay Packers, Tebow played the game of his life, passing for 316 yards, and completing an eighty-yard pass on the first play of overtime to win the game for Denver. Tim Tebow became a phenomenon like the sports world had rarely seen. Twitter was flooded with a record 9,420 tweets/second. The game was the highest-rated NFL wild-card game since 1988. And pictures appeared all over the Internet of people "Tebowing," the name given for Tebow's signature down-on-one-knee prayer of thanks he offered after scoring a touchdown.

For Christians, the best thing was that people were starting to have all conversations about evangelical Christianity and Jesus Christ. Tebow was interviewed scores of times and never failed to witness of Jesus, emphasizing that football was not number one in his life – that spot was reserved for Christ alone. This situation was a marketing dream. Tebow was covered by every television station and network – NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX News… It was impossible to escape the never-ending stories about the young football celebrity and his Christian faith.

The odd thing about it was that it was entirely unplanned. Who could have concocted such a scheme to have this twenty-four-year-old quarterback to win game after game in such unorthodox ways? There had been no slick Madison Avenue ad executives carefully planning each step. Tebow certainly could never have made all this happen by any acts or plans of his own. He had simply gone about his job, walking with the Lord and playing football the best he knew how. The Holy Spirit took care of the rest, and nearly all of America, football fans and non-fans, for that short window of time, were exposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Breaking All the Rules

A long time ago a man named John was breaking nearly all the rules that marketers prize. He dressed roughly, spoke harshly, told people they were sinners and needed to repent, and worst of all he located himself in an isolated wilderness area where people would have to travel quite a distance just to see and hear him. We know him as John the Baptist, and he had obviously never read any good books on marketing. But John had a Partner who marketed him and his message very, very well. The Bible says of John that he was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb. This anointing gave weight and power to his words, and we read an amazing thing: "Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins" (Matthew 3:5,6). John created no fliers or handouts; he produced no television advertisements or full page ads in magazines. He simply preached in the power of the Holy Spirit and the people came.

With John it was anointed preaching alone that marketed his message and proclamation of Christ. But in other cases God has used all sorts of ways and means to get his message out. David was writing beautiful, anointed poetry in his youth, but only the sheep were around to hear it. A Philistine giant named Goliath challenged the armies of Israel while David was taking some snacks to his brothers. David became indignant, grabbed a few rocks out of a stream for his slingshot, ended the giant's proud boasting, and catapulted himself into a role of leadership in Israel. When he became king his poetry was assured its rightful place in Jewish literature, and people the world over have been reading his psalms ever since.

Healings have been a powerful marketing tool of the Holy Spirit from Jesus' ministry onwards. In the book of Acts we find that the disciples carried on Jesus' healing ministry and the Holy Spirit used this to "market" the gospel:

There he (Peter) found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed." Then he arose immediately. So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. (Acts 9:33-35)

Joint Effort

This emphasis upon the Holy Spirit as the Marketer of the gospel is not to suggest that we are to leave all the marketing to the Holy Spirit, and have no role to play. Nor is it to suggest that it is carnal to publicize meetings, mail out fliers, and find creative means to make people aware of Jesus and the ministries we do in His name. Billy Graham was clearly an anointed evangelist, but every crusade he did was highly organized, and he made ample use of advertisements, fliers, billboard ads, and so forth. But we must recognize that the Holy Spirit is indispensable in any and every type of Christian ministry, and we must make sure that our trust is in Him and not in ourselves or our clever efforts to publicize ourselves, or Jesus.

Regardless of whether your ministry is teaching a handful of children on Sunday mornings, visiting prisoners every week, writing articles for the local paper, sharing Christ with homeless people at a shelter, pastoring a church, or preaching as an evangelist in large stadiums, it is right that you should desire to reach more people today than you did yesterday. If you have won one soul to Christ in the last year, how much greater it would be to win two souls to Christ in this year? If you are writing articles read by 50 people, how much better it would be to have 500 people reading your articles?

Yes, we do need to "build a better mousetrap," and strive for ever improving excellence in all that we do. But we also need to learn to trust the Holy Spirit as the Marketing Agent for Jesus Christ. And He whose job it is to magnify and glorify Jesus will be eager to raise up those ministries that honor the Savior and faithfully present Him.

 

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