It’s one thing for Christians to love a film or product so much that they want to tell others about it – and do. It’s quite another for a corporation to put the church on it’s payroll as a marketing tool.
My friend and worship arts pastor Randy Elrod , for instance, posted about nothing but Narnia on his blog for what seemed like months (and apparently still is), and his artfully doing so convinced me I had to see the film for myself. (He’s about to run the Disney marathon though so the timing smells of conspiracy.) What Randy did not do, thankfully, was see to it that we sang obviously Narnia related songs to God as a congregation for weeks because of his love of the film and Disney’s promising him a win in their upcoming marathon.
According to the Philadelphia”>http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/entertainment/13324125.htm”>Philadelphia Inquirer Disney’s marketing folks hosted (or are hosting) a Narnia sermon contest with a prize of $1000. The overseeing of the contest is being outsourced to SermonCentral.com where it is called “The Narnia Sermon Sweepstakes” and is promising not only cash but also a trip to London, the “Land of C.S. Lewis.” All of this is the mind spam of Outreach Media, an advertiser with Sermon Central and hired by Disney to market Narnia to Christians.
Outreach Media’s mission statement is: “To create a network of churches and ministries working together to love and serve people with the goal of inviting every person in America to a local Bible believing church and, ultimately, into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” But is being paid by Disney to promote a product to Christians by turning the communication of a pastor about God to his church (a sermon) into a marketing tool more about “inviting” people to church and into a “personal relationship with Christ” or more about getting a heaping helping of Turkish Delight?
The mixture of commerce and communication about God to God’s people, as I know very well, can be a complex thing. Is this example of church as marketing tool just more complexity as usual or is it corrupt? I don’t know. But I’m asking. So is Christianity Today and other bloggers. What do you think?