3 Myths That Keep Us From the Marketing Genius of Jesus

Do you hate anything to do with marketing, or see it as a necessary evil? Have you ever wondered if marketing could actually be a means for ministry? If so you’re not alone. Learning to see Jesus as a marketing genius could be the game changer.Myth

If your leadership seeks to influence people in your business, your church, in the educational, political, or non-profit arena–or simply at home–you are a marketer. Don’t believe it? Consider the following definition:

“Marketing is simply the process for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large.”    ~ American Marketing Association

Darren Shearer suggests in his book Marketing Like Jesus that a marketer is simply anyone who “seeks a specific response” and that marketing is the “art and science of strategic influence.”

Synopsis translation? If you have a message or ideas, a service or product that you believe is valuable, and you seek to leverage that value to influence others, then you are a marketer.

Yet, even with this definition in mind, many Christian leaders who have no trouble seeing Jesus as a wonderful forgiver, healer, leader, or friend, have difficulty with the concept of viewing Jesus as a Master Marketer.

Why is it so difficult for us to think of Jesus as a marketing genius? There are many causes to be sure, but I would like to share just 3 Myths that can keep us from tapping into Jesus’ marketing genius, and consequently, from finding more meaning and ministry in our marketing efforts.

Marketing and Ministry Don’t Mix

Years ago, when serving as a young Pastor, I distinctly recall conversations I had with other Pastors who emphatically stated that marketing efforts had no place in the church’s ministry.

I remember thinking how strange, or even hypocritical that seemed as their actions told another story.

For example, some of those same pastors had churches that would spend considerable dollars on external signage, bulk mailers, and phone book and newspaper adds, all so their ministry could be more visible to the community and attract newcomers.

The only difference I saw between that and so called worldly marketing efforts was that the line item on their budget describing such expenses was entitled “outreach” instead of “advertising” or “marketing.”

Thankfully, I believe this mindset has changed considerably, but it’s the kind of thing that has contributed to many Christians in the workplace buying into a sacred / secular view of life and ministry, which is still very strong. 

That’s why we need to remind ourselves of the familiar truths of God’s Word to replace those “bifurcated” lies we assimilate with the “integrated” truth such as:

“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus…” (~ Col. 3:17 NIV)

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (~ 1 Cor. 10:31 NIV)

Does the “whatever” in the above verses include our marketing efforts? Without a doubt!

Marketing is Connected to a Cost

“But doesn’t marketing include a cost that is paid to receive the value of a good or service provided by the marketer? Jesus didn’t sell His ministry to people!”

It’s true. Jesus didn’t attach a financial dollar amount to those who benefited from His ministry. This has been one of my own personal tension points in attaching an asking price to some of the ministry services KWM provides.

To add to my marketing complex, I have the words of the apostle Paul ringing in my ears, when he brags about earning an income as a tentmaker. His motivation was to not be seen as a “peddler of the gospel.”

But then I think about what it truly costs to be a follower of Christ. Coming to Jesus for the forgiveness of sins doesn’t cost us a dime. It is a free gift of God’s grace that can’t be earned (Eph. 2:10)!

But the cost to follow Him into an abundant life of meaningful service to our King calls us to pay more than dimes. It calls us to die.

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” (~ Luke 9:23-24 NIV)

And we talk about the exorbitant costs of inflation! Jesus knew about setting a price point for the exchanged life-saving and life-fulfilling value He knew He could provide. And He wasn’t shy about asking people to pay it.

What’s even more compelling and amazing is that the Master Marketer of all time was willing to pay the price point Himself to procure that meaningful life on our behalf.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (~ 1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV)

Marketing Has to Be Manipulative

We have all experienced what I call “sleazy” marketing schemes, haven’t we? Getting interrupted by a tele-marketer, pushy sales people who won’t take no for an answer, gimmicky tricks, fine print exception clauses, and pressure to buy before we’ve thought through our purchase decision.

But does that mean all marketing has to have that “sleazy” feel? Can marketing truly be leveraged to love God and serve people? The answer, I believe, is a resounding YES!

Marketing itself is not inherently unethical or evil. As followers of Jesus, we get to choose how, when, where, and for what purposes marketing is used.

Wouldn’t it be something, as Christians learn to follow the Master’s marketing genius, if we could lead the charge in changing the concept that marketing tactics have to include manipulation?

Stay tuned as this is the first of a series of blogs in the coming weeks to explore some of what that might look like.

Question:  Is it difficult for you to think of Jesus as a Marketing genius? If so why? How could your marketing strategies actually be a ministry to people? Share your thoughts on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn through one of the tabs below, and forward to a friend.