A Consistent Picture

Volvo has an interesting history of advertising. You may remember when we found out that the company that advertised itself as the safest car on the planet cheated when making their ads. They reinforced the cars so after they rolled over, they didn’t look too smashed up. Strike 1. You may remember when a car company that wanted to be known as the safest car decided to start advertising that they were fast. They were faster than a Porsche even. Huh? Since when do ‘being safe’ and ‘massive amounts of acceleration’ go hand in hand? Strike 2.

Now they have a new campaign, ‘Who would you give a Volvo to?’ Interesting. The ad seems to play off our selflessness. It addresses how much we care about the people we love. We want to love them and protect them with a safe car, so we should give them a Volvo. You can go to their website and submit a story about how someone ‘deserves’ a Volvo. But that’s about it. Volvo is not giving away 10 cars, or 5 cars, or 3 cars or even 1 car. They think we should give away their cars, but not them. They want us to be selfless, but not themselves. Strike 3. I believe Volvo needs a new ad agency. These ads are broken, as Seth Godin would say. They don’t make sense. They don’t give us a consistent picture.

I wonder how often we do the same thing with church. Are we being consistent? In church-speak we say “practice what you preach.” It’s good to be true to what you believe and do the things you say. But I think it should go much deeper than that. Are we presenting a consistent picture of who we are and what we are about to the people around us? Do we confuse people when they come to visit our church? Think about it from the point of view of someone who doesn’t usually come to church. We talk about love for God and our fellow man, yet many churches have a big cross (some even have a dying Jesus on it) as their main symbol to reach the masses with. I don’t know about you, but it appears to me that the cross doesn’t appear to speak about love to someone who doesn’t know what it’s about. The cross appears to talk about pain and death, not love. I'm not suggesting that all the churches should get rid of their crosses. But we should be aware that it takes a fair amount of understanding as to why the cross represents love. We talk about caring for our fellow man, yet when was the last time we did something for our fellow man – besides inviting him to a church event? Oh sure, we give a couple of cans of food at Thanksgiving, but I mean really DID something – got sweaty, smelly and worn out. Imagine, entire churches actively involved in working to help people in their community. Lives would be changed. People would really understand what we were about, lives would changed. I wonder what that would look like?


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