Friday, July 18, 2008

Loving the Truth, Part 4 (aka, truth in advertising)

I went to heat something up in the kitchen at our church office and found the above can staring back at me when I opened the cabinet door looking for a plastic fork.

"America's favorite instant Mocha Cappuccino" it intoned, featuring an image of a Monk to ensure the integrity of the statement firmly ensconced itself in my mind.

I was a bit suprised by the claim because I've never actually heard of Cafe D'Vita Instant Mocha Cappuccino. Perhaps it's a form of cultural elitism to assume that what I've heard of is all that counts. But I'm pretty sure no one has heard of Cafe D'Vita.
Even once.

I can only assume they put that on there to heighten the chance that someone would buy it, hoping for this sort of internal monologue to drive sales: "Hmm. I'm not sure what brand of instant mocha cappuccino to buy...oh, wait, it says here 'America's favorite brand.' They wouldn't just say that, so I guess I'll buy this."

In other words, they lied in order to get me to buy something.
Let me repeat that. They lied. In order to manipulate me.

And here's the ridiculous thing: I didn't mind it at all. In fact, I've come to accept that false claims are just part of the consumerist ball game. And if you're like me, you probably have too.

Which makes me wonder, in what ways do we do this in the church? Do we do this when:
  • we print a stock photo of 'idyllic family A' to advertise the friendships in our small groups?
  • we tell people that if they'll come to "x" event/or join "y" Small Group it will "change their lives"?
  • we entice people to serve by telling them they will find the fulfillment they've always been looking for?
  • we send out advertising to the community telling them that we've got exactly what they are looking for?

Do we oversell our claims in attempt to get people to buy out religious "product"? What if we loved the truth instead?

"Here's a picture of some of the old, wrinkly, slightly cantankerous people in our congregation. But they really will love you if you can see past the exterior that our culture doesn't prize very much."

"Come to "x" event and you'll have a good time, maybe deepen some friendships, maybe make some new ones."

"Join "y" small group and the relationships will take you a long time--maybe a year--until you really feel safe. But it's totally worth the investment."

"If you find a place to serve, your life will be busier, you'll have to say no to something else, and you'll often feel frustrated. But our model of serving is about sacrifice, not fulfillment."

"If you come to one of our services, you'll have the chance to encounter God, meet people who could become life-long friends, and find hope. But you'll have to make the investment for it to actually happen."

How would that fly?


Josh said...

nice...well said, my friend.

and, btw...i never heard of that brand of mochaness.

dooleysinpng said...

Well thanks for insulting my favorite brand of Instant Mocha!

I really enjoyed the truth statements - I think that our language in the church needs to get a lot more open like that. We tell those white lies not only to each other and our "target audience" but we tell them to ourselves as well.

For us Pharisees one would be "I must go to church because if I go I will grow, or God will bless me or whatever (although truthfully it is just as often, lest someone think I am not as spiritual as I really am)." How about a more scary truth -
"I will go and I will see if I can love the people in my congregation who I have suspected may actually be hypocrites (and if they were only partially observant would know how often I am). I will go because God is trying to teach me not only through a sermon but how I care for his body and how I let others care for me. When I start to think 'I have heard this sermon before' I will try my best to realize that though I have heard it- I still struggle to live it. I will go to church because I want God to continue to teach me how he shapes a incongruent group of people into a divine appointment."