So for those who don't know, here in Hobart we have just run (i think it technically goes until the end of this month) the Jesus All About Life advertising campaign (JAAL). The idea behind this as far as i could tell was that all the churches would work together to make sure the name of Jesus was got out into the community more and that we would be able to together be more engaged with out communities in evangelism and mission. The main thrust of this campaign was that it would be a media saturation. Where posters, banners, tv ads and radio ads would be placed over a month so that Christians might be able to more easily bring up Jesus in conversation or so that other people might get curious about why the word Jesus kept popping up all over the place and so might ask their Christian friend about it.

So in theory i think its a pretty good idea. However i think in practice it has fallen well short of achieving anything much at all. Why? Well i don't know but here are my suspicions.
  • It relies way way too much on people being self motivated. That is, it relies on people seeing the ad and then thinking, "oh yes, Jesus is all about life, but i don't know much about him, i might call that number and get an information pack". In my view people aren't going to do that. When people see a product marketed they can buy into the marketed image or the fulfillment of a perceived need. Like, oh that lady is beautiful, i can be beautiful with that shampoo too, i'll buy some. The JAAL ad's don't seem to me to provide any kinda of lifestyle that people could buy into. Just ordinary people who happened to talk about Jesus. I assume this was the aim, to promote Christians as 'normal' however in doing that i think they failed to show people were missing something or had any need to 'buy in' to Jesus. Thus creating ad's which relied to a large extent on the self motivation of individuals but that offered them nothing to really 'buy in' to they lost out. This is one of the main problems I see with the campaign.
  • Secondly, over the last month i have watched the following shows at least once, Neighbours, All Saints, Southern Cross News, The Simpsons, AFL finals, Criminal Intent, Today Tonight, Sea Patrol, City Homicide. All of these are fairly average tv shows, however reasonably well watched. I have also watched a variety of other shows that i can't remember right at the moment. But how many times have i seen the ads? 30 times? 20 times? 15 times? even 10 times? No... i have seen them TWICE!! TWICE!! And i'm certain the only reason that i can remember seeing them is because i was looking for them because we were told about them at church. Not because the ad has been played so many times i can remember it. In fact, it would still be easier to start a conversation about Jesus by walking up to someone in Hobart and saying "In the jungle one day in a land far away the King was collecting his rent" and seeing if together you and the person could reel off the rest of the ad together and then asking them what they thought about the meaning of that ad. Sure the ad was daggy. But i think it has been on TV so much that almost all the people i know in Hobart can recite the ad. I don't think half the people at BayWest could recognise the little JAAL ad tune if they heard it, let alone the ads. They were too infrequent. There were also no ads on buses that i saw, nor anywhere in the CBD. It would have to be the lamest attempt at market saturation i've ever seen.
  • Finally, the whole JAAL campaign is entirely based on an attractional based model of evangelism based on Christendom thinking. That is people are interested in church and will come if we put enough events on. Fact is we put on hundreds of church services and youth groups and all manner of things every week in Hobart and the people aren't coming. Why would they come when on the off chance they might have seen an ad that was not on tv very much which may not have even interested them?? It just doesn't work for me. Mind you this doesn't mean i'm convinced that the whole completely incarnational approach is the answer either. (that is lets go be with people so they see Jesus in us). Rather i am more and more convinced that the only way for myself and anyone to see people come to know Jesus is to stop being so damn ashamed of him. I get so annoyed with myself when i know i have an opportunity to share something about me in a conversation with a non-believer and instead of boldly sharing, i feel shame rise and i kinda lamely bleat out something that half passes as talking about my faith. Likewise, i can't stand when someone say, i can't talk about Jesus because that might ruin the relationship. Leave that to God. I tell people i like footy and don't care if they hate me for it. Jesus is heaps more important to me than the Swans, so why shouldn't i tell people i met about him. In my view the problem is not whether or not your church does attractional mission or incarnational mission. It's actually whether each person will actually share their faith unashamedly and are living as sold out disciples rather than having Jesus as an added extra to their life.
Well i think i have ranted and raved here long enough. I commend the sentiment behind the JAAL campaign and i believe that it was right to try it out. However i think we can learn lots form its failure (which is what i believe it ultimately was). We must get real, we must stop being ashamed and we must put Jesus number one in our lives. I am first to admit that I am in great need of fixing those 3 things in my life. I hope that together we can all be real with each other, not be ashamed of our faith, and put Jesus first in our lives. I hope that together we can hold each other accountable for this and give each other advice on how to do it better. As you can see i don't have answers to how to fix these problems. But i know they are problems and I want help fixing them in my life!

Here endeth my sermon ;)