Pastor's Blog

Back in the 1980’s a friend of mine planned his honeymoon trip to a small Caribbean island.  He showed me pamphlets with pictures of lovely white beaches.  It was amazingly inexpensive and affordable, even on the modest wages we made in those days. 

Too good to be true, I thought.  But I didn’t want to rain on his parade.

He and his new bride returned from the Caribbean frustrated and disappointed.  “There’s only one small beach on that island and every picture shows that one beach – just from a different angle!”  He complained that the beach was uncomfortably crowded, and worse, the island was populated with goats that roamed the beach and pestered vacationers. 

The goats weren’t featured in the pamphlets.

My illustration, like most formative experiences in my life, comes from pre-internet days when the consumer was at the mercy of the marketer.  The internet has given consumers a leg up to a more even playing field.  The ordinary person now has access to information that will confirm of the marketer’s assertions and to contrary information that the marketer may have withheld.  I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

I’m using the illustration to get us to think about the “marketing” of a church, of ministry, and even of the Christian faith.  We live in a society that expects marketing.  Marketing tells them why they should buy into what product you’re selling or what service you’re providing.

Marketing, I think, necessarily involves presenting the good things about a product and minimizing the troublesome or distasteful or difficult aspects of the product or service – the things that will prevent the consumer from buying it.

But the gospel begins with buying into things that are troublesome, distasteful, and difficult – about myself

The gospel seems to me an attempt to sell you a beach vacation on a Caribbean island that is too good to be true -- but there are those pesky goats on the beach.  What do I do with the goats on the beach?

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