Marketing the Most Undesirable Thing Ever

Just after the table of contents of Richard Rohr's book Everything Belongs, we find this statement/poem entitled Inherent Unmarketability

How do you make attractive that which is not?
How do you sell emptiness, vulnerability and non-success?

How do you talk about descent when everything is about ascent?
How can you possibly market letting-go in a capitalist culture?
How do you present Jesus to a Promethean mind?
How do you talk about dying to a church trying to appear perfect?
This is not going to work
(which might be my first step).

The book is about contemplative prayer and how it is a great gift given to us but often not appreciated in the Western expression of the Church. These questions push against the temptation of the Church (and her leaders) to be more relevant and spectacular and powerful.

"How do you sell emptiness, vulnerability and non-success?" 

You can't. 

The Gospel is not something we sell. It is not something that has a slick marketing campaign and it is not something that comes with guaranteed success, wealth, and/or luxury. It is the very thing that calls us to abandon those idols and leads us to the cross. For it is through the cross, where we die to ourselves, that we place our hope. 

Success in the Church is just different. It looks like broken and contrite spirits. It looks like mercy and not sacrifice. It looks like doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God.

That sort of life does not get you famous or many followers. It may even be considered unsuccessful. 

But success is not what we are hoping for. We are hoping for resurrection.

Justin Bieber and Sarah Palin have love child

Not really.

As you know, this title is an example of what is called "click-bait". A tag or headline that is so shocking that it "baits" you to click the link thus driving up traffic. Since the risk of missing the story is greater than the energy it costs to click the link and be duped, we click the link. 

Click bait is what many people use to attract attention on a noisy internet. It is difficult to be heard on the internet and thus using headlines like this or "ten ways to..." or "3 reasons that..." or "23 pictures of ..." generally are the types of headlines we see on the internet. It should be no shock that the most visited post in the history of this site is titled - 10 WEIRD THINGS KIDS DO AT COMMUNION I WISH MORE ADULTS WOULD DO

If you attend churches you will see a church form of click bait in two places - Church signs and sermon title.

I don't have to point out all the sites dedicated to church signs and the crazy stuff that is put up on these marquees. Just google it any you will find all sorts of slogans. From the cheesy (Sign broken, message inside) to the appalling (Christmas: Easier to spell than Hanukkah). The point is that the roads, like the internet, is noisy and you "need" a church sign that stands out and gets people's attention. You need click bait! I guess?

The other and perhaps more frustrating to me is the click bait sermon titles. The idea for some is to have a sermon title that people will remember. So you get sermon titles like "Wait Watchers" or "You Can't Have Your Kate and Edith too" or "You Can't Win if you Don't Begin". What I don't understand is that if someone is sitting in worship, they are choosing to listen to the preacher. They can leave at any point. We preachers don't need to "warm up the crowd" or "get a joke in early" as a way to "engage the masses". So preachers, let us remember that if people are in the pew, they are choosing to be there. Lets stop giving fluff and start giving substance.

Finally to the non-preacher types:

On behalf of the church I am sorry for click bait in the church. I am sorry that we treat people like drones who need us to come up with quirky, silly or lame titles of things just to encourage you to visit/listen. 

Finally, I present - Justin Bieber and Sarah Palin's love child