“Yada, yada, yada” or “…”

What is it about pretty much everything that drives me nuts…in a bad way? I suppose everything is too strong a word, so lets just start with most things "Christian" and most things "marketing." I know I won’t be able to, but I’d love to vomit right on the next magazine ad I see that claims it will make your walk with God more intimate, or lead you to higher levels of faith, or help you discover Christ in a new way.

This could very well just be a reaction to my job–which is marketing for a Christian organization where I have to contrive tricky words, phrases, images and designs that make us sound as alluring as possible–but come ON…did Christ really mean us to order every other Max Lucado book, or listen to all the Vineyard CDs, or attend a conference a year, or even church twice a week for that matter… Is this what the Christian walk is all about?

I know most would say that these things are simply tools at our disposal–things we can choose to or not to use. The publishers don’t intend for them to take the place of the Bible and don’t claim they are our source of salvation. Pastors don’t claim you’ll miss the last bus to heaven if you sleep through part four of the nine-installment series on the fruit of the spirit.

But something about the whole industry just doesn’t sit right with me.

Triggering this rant was my initial browse through Relevant Magazine, a publication I respect a ton. I didn’t find anything wrong with the magazine’s own content–at least not yet–but I was sick of all the ads and their call for my dollars and time by the third-way point.

I know as well as anyone that ads are just that: advertisements. And advertisements are supposed to call attention to a product or service and create a sense of need for it in the viewer. But geeze-louise: I’m not smart enough to know God if I don’t go to seminary, I’m not on-fire enough to truly, honestly relate with God if I don’t invest $$$ in a conference, I’m not hip and edgy enough to understand the God-of-today if I don’t own the latest tunes that praise his name and I’m not dedicated enough to take up my cross and follow God if I don’t pour time, energy and devotion into the latest revelations penned by a big-name author.

And those are just the flashy, in-your-face ads. I’ve also noticed a reversed marketing and communication approach being used on an increased scale. I suppose I’m being borderline judgmental here, but I sniff an awful lot of posed authenticity in some of the recent stuff being created. With America shifting so heavily toward the postmodern emotion-rules-the-day posture, publishers are starting to feed that dog as much as it can eat. Everything is becoming the most raw, intimate, vulnurable, authentic thing ever created–and it will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

I’ve succumbed to the pressure as much as anyone–both in my consumption and creation of the medium. I’ll binge on books from CBD, buying into the jackets’ testimonies that so-and-so’s insights will stretch me like never before and make me more like God. And then I’ll sit down at this very computer screen and feel like I don’t have anything to blog about because I don’t have some tricky, contrived Biblical insight to share with people that will reveal to readers my raw intimacy with the Creator.

And I suppose that’s another reason I’m fired up about it. I’m sick of being told how to meet God. I’m sick of being offered the ticket to the abundant life. I’m tired of feeling bad for not doing enough to know God intimately. And I know others out there feel the same way. But his yoke is easy…and I don’t think we were meant to toil in our relationship with Him like we do.

I blogged what you just read Wednesday night…but never finished. I didn’t really arrive anywhere with my rant, but I guess that’s the nature of rants vs. developed arguments. One is thought out and strategic and the other isn’t. So now we’re left with a discussion that arrives nowhere.

I guess my final thought on the topic, as it relates to creativity as ministry, is this: I often fret about my chances of succeeding as an author or photographer or just plain communicator because of the pressure to package it like everything I just ripped on above. "How am I going to express truth about God is some snappy, relevant way?" I ask myself. "What’s going to make my pictures different and appealing? What’s going to make people want to read what I have to say?"

After coming up with no answers, I’m left with one alternative–the one I think God’s wanted me to land on: it’s not really up to me to create anointed art. That’s the work of the Father. It’s up to him to draw people’s hearts to it and be changed on the inside. If impact on people’s lives relied solely on our wisdom, knowledge and craftiness, most everyone would probably be in mental hospitals because we’d mess them up.

I need to faithfully follow the passions he lays on my heart without expecting to see the end of the trail before even stepping onto it.

Joel Maust

Joel Maust is a blogger, marketer and photographer living in the beautiful Flathead Valley of northwest Montana.

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