Mad Men Having More Influence on Evangelism than Jesus

If you consume any sort of media these days you will find that advertising is more annoying than ever. Not long ago, we would sit through commercials because we did not have the ability to speed through them. (Who can forget the most famous introduction to commercial breaks: Chuck Woolery said the Love Connection will be back "2 and 2".) Today however, banner ads on websites are ignored, pop ups are blocked and pre-roll ads are universally deemed annoying. So when we do have to experience an ad we feel like we are being subjected to something that we did not sign up for. 

Essentially, advertisers are the uninvited guests to a dinner party.

The television show "Mad Men" glorified the advertising model of something you might call caught and taught. This was the time of no skipping or blocking ads. It was the time of limited media channels. It was a time when every ad was seen by a vast majority of Americans because no one had any choice - people were caught. The ad's job then was to capitalize on this caught audience. The viewer was "taught" about the product/service and saw the desired benefits. Today, the closet thing we may have to the "caught and taught" is each year with the Super Bowl. 

The "caught and taught" understanding of advertising is not only annoying it is now obsolete. Truth be told, I have never seen an episode of Mad Men! We all are consuming media in a dramatically different way than was previously possible and advertising is trying to figure out how to stay relevant. 

For many in the Church, "doing evangelism" is thought of in the same terms of the "caught and taught" method. It is thought that you go to a place where people are "caught" (street corners, subways, buses, parks, etc.) then proceed to teach the Gospel. More sophisticated versions of caught and taught evangelism include building a relationship with someone with the intent to teach them about Jesus. If we are going to use methods of "caught and taught" for evangelism, that is just fine we just need to remember one thing: Evangelists are the uninvited guest at the dinner party. 

No one appreciates a dinner guest who shows up and begins to comment how they are better cooks and select better wine than you do. No one appreciates a guest who talks only about topics she/he wants to talk about. No one appreciates a guest who stops does not listen but only waits for their turn to talk again. 

When we "do" evangelism it is important to remember that evangelism is sharing of Good News. This means that it is contextual. Good News to the addict is not the same Good News to the single mother of three. Evangelism influenced by Mad Men is more interrupting and agenda driven. Evangelism influenced by Jesus is more listening and following.