Brand Loyalties

While January's cover story on marketing Jesus ["Jesus Is Not a Brand"] conveys admirable passion, its negative critique of felt-needs evangelism could use some balance. I agree; felt-needs appeals can become misguided. I once appeared on a talk show with a "Christian stripper." In her nightclub act, she stripped, then preached. Clever marketing; inappropriate evangelistic method. But Jesus appealed to felt needs, such as in his encounter with the Samaritan woman (John 4). His "product," living water, gained her attention and piqued her curiosity. Soon she and many others believed. Appropriately tapped felt needs — for personal peace, hope, forgiveness, and so on—can become legitimate entry points and conversation starters to help introduce nonbelievers to Christ.

Rusty Wright
Mount Hermon, California

I couldn't agree more with Tyler Wigg-Stevenson that our methods of communicating the gospel should fit the gospel. But there may be deeper connections than we'd like to admit between loyalty to a brand and to Jesus. Recent cognitive-science research indicates that the loyalty people feel to iPhones lights up the same part of the brain that devotion to Jesus does. That doesn't falsify our devotion to Jesus. It does suggest we might be a little too attached to our iPhones.

What if we accepted the validity of the brand metaphor? Jesus has a name, which gains a reputation by way of things we do in his name. He set it up that way, after all. This is what a brand is — the reputation of an entity in the public sphere. But he owns the brand, not us. We've allowed Jesus' name to be associated with things other than Jesus. Most recently, we pastors have allowed political operatives to guide how we exercise ...

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