It’s pretty common for churches these days to have a slogan. We want it to be short (so it can be remembered) and encouraging (so people will want to remember it). Something like …
“A family place”
“Worship in peace”
“A place to call home”
“Where Jesus is Lord!”
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Nothing wrong with any of those slogans, but I’m rather partial to the last one just because it’s Scriptural. (Psalm 34:8, in case you’re curious.)
In these slogans, we’re trying to conjure up a positive mental image, the kind of thing that makes anyone who sees it say, “That sounds like a nice place. I’ll check that out some Sunday.” (Actually, we’re hoping you’ll check us out THIS Sunday, sometime between 9 and 11 a.m., check your local listings.)
It’s not a strange practice. Most businesses in our world are doing the same thing. Remember “Have it Your Way”? It’s been thirty years since a certain burger chain used that slogan, but all of us 40 and over still remember it. We may even remember the logo that went with the slogan back then. Cartoony guy with a crown? Remember him? Before they switched to that creepy guy with the plastic head.
I could go off on a long—and possibly angry or sarcastic—diatribe here about how churches have gotten so into the concept of branding that there have actually been cases of churches suing other churches for copyright infringement.
But anyway, back to this idea of a slogan and a logo. We’re looking for something friendly, attractive, warm … something that’ll bring the people in. Remember the slogan from a few years ago (it’s actually from more than a hundred years ago but it comes back every few years): “What Would Jesus Do?” That was a good slogan. What sort of slogan did Jesus use when reaching out to people?
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (NIV)
Jesus’s logo was (and still is, look at our churches) an instrument of unspeakable pain, torture and humiliation and his slogan was, “Come and die.”
I’ve been wondering how well that would go over as a marketing strategy in Dumas. A giant banner hung out in front of the church that says, “Come in and die!” And instead of the nice, attractive, smooth cross we have hanging in the sanctuary now, what if we put up a rough piece of wood splattered with blood, chunks of flesh hanging off it where a person who had been flayed before being attached to said cross had hung? What would that do to our church attendance?
It about destroyed Jesus’s attendance figures. He goes from being surrounded by thousands to deserted by all but a dozen followers. Either Jesus was lousy at marketing or he wanted something other than just numbers.
He wanted followers. He wanted people who knew the cost and were willing anyway. He wanted people who weren’t just hanging around because it was the fun, cool or expedient-at-the-moment thing to do, but because they loved him and wanted to spend eternity with him, in his Father’s presence. He wanted people who would take him up on his offer of rest, but were fully aware struggle might come first.
People who would put him and his kingdom first. People who were willing to “come and die”.