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1/05/2006

TODAY'S SERMON SPONSORED BY NARNIA

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 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?

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting, unfortunately the only thing I could think of the whole time I was reading this was Jon Stewart's (Daily Show) joke about the sequel to Narnia, the hip-hop inspired "Get Rich Off Christ Dyin'"

1/05/2006  
Blogger Mark said...

I love Narnia and think there are some great spiritual truths in the books.

I don't want to hear a sermon about the books, however. Examples from them to illustrate a point? Yes. The entire sermon based on the books? No.

1/05/2006  
Anonymous Sonflower said...

I'm in Marketing and a Christian ....
and that's just tacky.

1/05/2006  
Anonymous Kristen said...

If I understand it correctly, I don't like it.

The idea of using a pastor's sermon to push across an agenda isn't something that should be practiced.

It would be no different than a political party giving favors to any church that pushed their platform.

Using clips or illustrations from the movie to make a point is one thing- marketing it from the pulpit is another.

1/05/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

I agree with Kristen if I'm understanding it the same way she is. To me, sermons are for spreading the gospel or decipling believers, not for advertising the latest movie. Used as an illustration, it could be good. But, isn't that what Narnia is anyway, an illustration or allegory about Christianity?

Beth

1/05/2006  
Blogger Pat Callahan said...

I'm still waiting to hear from Coors about them sponsoring our new building project - The Coor's Auditorium at NewCov. Maybe if I use their name up front... or maybe wear a shirt. I guess if they don't bite, their always Nike - or maybe a tobacco company; they're in need of some good press these days.

Yeah, that's the ticket. The RJ Reynolds Center for Worship.

-Pat

1/05/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thats american Christianity for you. plus, wasnt it a year or two ago that we were boycotting our friend mickey for holding hands with donald? i dont know sounds like a bunch of horseshit to me. sorry beth.


sethro

1/05/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Seth,

Wash your mouth out with soap right now young man! I personally think the drive-thru church would be good. Can I get fries with that?

Beth

1/05/2006  
Blogger Nancy Tyler said...

Preachers have been selling things from the pulpit for a long time...most notably, political candidates.

n

1/06/2006  
Blogger Kathryn said...

what do i think? a 'sermon competition'? prizes? trip?I'm not against anyone winning a prize in a contest. . but to preach in order to win a contest? *i don't know how to say what i'm thinking. * I'm sure you can guess. I'm tired of sermons, period. I think that most of the traditional ways of 'having church' are boring and irrelevent to our culture. I don't think too many people have come face to face with the love of God through sermons or other such churchy means. . I think people come face to face with the love of God when they see and experience his love for real in relationship and community with people who diminish themselves in order that God is augmented in their living.

I get so sick to death of "Christians" always saying stuff like "We want to use this _______ (insert descriptor) as a tool to bring non believers to church and to a personal relationship with Jesus." BAH!!! Why are Christians always trying to TRAP people who don't think like they do and don't listen to the music they do, who don't dress like or look like they do-- do they really love people? or do they want to 'get' them? The way some churches are - wanting people to conform to their rules instead of getting to know them the way they are and love them -- wanting people to somehow magically decide to come to church and immediately conform to its culture, adopt it as their own and start jumping through the hoops. .why would they want to do that? How about going where people are and connecting with them, to be in relationship with those who might come to know God if all that 'stuff' wasn't in the way. . My thinking has radically shifted in the past year and a half -- this kind of news, it doesn't help anyone who hears it. . doesn't help my attitude, doesn't help anyone's.

1/07/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

So, kathryn does this mean you are not in a church on a weekly basis then or have you somehow waded through your irritations with the church to keep attending? How does your perspective on things like this affect your interaction with organized religion (ie. church)? I'm curious.

SG

1/07/2006  
Blogger Mike Morrell said...

Hullo Shaun,

Well, I've watched you 'blog for a few weeks now on everything from Just War critique to what surely must be a Nashville sacred cow, Narnia promotion (I was at an 'event' in Atlanta when a certain nameless someone [cough! *SCC* cough!] preened about singing Saddle Up Your Lion--I share your sentiments exactly!

Now, I wonder if your music is as good as your views...guess I'm gonna have to check it out. :)

1/07/2006  
Blogger Kathryn said...

Shaun. . i was born into a denomination and grew up in it. Without going into a long, painful explanation -- let me say that I was very involved. I would need to have at least an hour to tell you all the things that happened and why they did, and how they played out. I've never been one to 'church hop'. . . never thought that was healthy -- so I put up with so much, you wouldn't believe if i told you - others i soldiered along side of suffered the same fate. My loyalty was fierce and my devastation has been nearly complete. Many were hurt. . Families were affected, friends of ours who had made our church their home saw it all happen and the damage it did to their new faith is criminal. Thankfully they still love God and they understand that people can do these kinds of things, but they don't lump God in with that kind of behaviour. The kicker is my former church continues on as if it never happened. . its unreal.

I don't have so much irritations as i have wounds and disappointments. I see things with different eyes. . I fear that I've swung the other way and have just been so put off by organized religion. I have such longing for the church to be amazing and restorative and real and beautiful. . . Its all just below the surface. . i could bawl for days. . this is where i'm coming from. . its hard to summarize such emotional stuff. . but that's a little piece of it. thank you for asking.

1/07/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

That's horrible. I'm sorry. So you're no longer in a church because the wounds are too deep and the church you once attended wasn't all it should have been? Is that accurate?

SG

1/08/2006  
Blogger Kathryn said...

Thank you for your sympathy. I'm no longer in a church - i feel lost. I feel like i can't go anywhere else because I feel like i don't belong anywhere else. .like i have different blood or my heart is wired in a different way. i've tried and i've given up. The organization . . i believed so much in its mission, its founders, its radical, missional history -- yet for my small church *little cog in a big machine* -- i yearned for and prayed and fasted for and worked in my small way for its resurrection, along with others of like spirit. Its potential lay buried somewhere - yet i/we despaired as i saw such unrelenting decline. .it was like being on a sinking ship and i finally bailed - i didn't want to, but the breaking point was so brutal. i feel so much pain for it. . for its people and its decisions and its path -- yet i am encouraged to know there are parts of the world where the denomination of my birth is so effective for God. . This limbo is almost worse than the friendly fire. . yet the stress has greatly lessened.

My thoughts about what 'church' is have been so challenged. . my feelings about 'Christianity' so muddled and the stark hypocrisy i was witness to knocked me flat. It wasn't just all that. . we all withstood it for a decade. .we could have stood more if we knew that an end was in sight - there was no end.

well, thanx for reading and caring. I'm not sure how it will all turn out. . but i love God - what else matters? I have a lot more time for my neighbours and co workers now! This time will not be wasted and i trust him. I'm wary of wolves in sheep's clothing for sure. . they go for the jugular.

1/08/2006  
Blogger jimmy said...

Thanks for talking about this Shaun. I'm going to link to this story!

grace and peace, jimmy

1/31/2006  

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