Friday, October 21, 2005

Custom Made Jesus

It's amazing to me that business continues to find new ways to attract consumers to their products. Take for instance the latest iPod craze, and soon to be Video iPod. Wherever you turn their are iPod's. Podcasting has taken off as one of the quickest and most effective ways to get audio to people. You can sign up for "podcasts" and download them at will for almost anything that is broadcast. Churches are beginning to do this as well. Why don't churches use these strategies more often?

The business world has figured out that to reach their "target audience" that they must customize their product to meet the needs of the consumer. I heard a great session by Leonard Sweet that describes this in detail. He deconstructed a simple Starbucks Coffee Cup and talked about branding and the church. As he described, business is simply taking age old biblical principles and applying them in a practical way. Something, he stresses, that the church has forgotten about but needs to revisit. Why let business dominate a strategy that Christ used centuries ago??

I had some fun recently with product "customization." You can visit my new "shoe" design here. You can now personalize everything from shoes, other clothing items, your car, your name it and you can personalize it. This seems so ironic to me. The very thing that business uses is the same concept that the "church" (BIG "C") has put in a box for so long. God is seen as a "rigid" force that you shouldn't mess with. Do as your told and follow the rules. We are one. How fresh would it be to talk about Jesus as someone who you can "personalize?" Someone who can relate to you no matter where you are or where you have been. This is the Jesus that I know. This does not diminish the "Truth," but paints it in a new way that anyone can relate to on their own level. In essence this is what Jesus was all about - meeting people (customization) wherever they needed to be met.

So my question is this - are you looking for a mass-produced, run-of-the-mill Jesus, or are you looking for a fresh, customized Jesus that will meet you wherever you are?

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