Wednesday 11 February 2009

AD-Mission of Guilt

WESLEYS TAME CHRISTIANITY In its time one of these advertisements was hugely successful. The punters flocked to the product in droves. Now it would be banned, and rightly so. The other has been around for quite a while, can still  be spotted around the UK, is not yet prohibited,  and is blatantly a disaster. It should carry the health warning: this product can make you seriously bland.

The enamel Ad for Woodbines clearly belongs  to a former era and is an historical curiosity. Viewed now it is tempting to ask how anyone could ever have been taken in by it, such is the dissonance with today's health-aware culture. The other advertisement is how we are so often seen and perceived to be. No wonder the punters are disinterested. Worse still, this is how some actually experience our product. Its enough to make a marketeer weep with despair, let alone God. So it is time for an AD-Mission of guilt. This is the wrong message, badly presented, and we should be ashamed of ourselves.  We have misrepresented, misunderstood and undersold a fantastic product.

So all around the UK we are at long last beginning to tell a very different story. The useless old enamel ads are being torn down daily. We now speak of a full-strength, unfiltered, Wild Christianity. The sort which grasped the imagination and energy of the early Jesus movement and which inspired John Wesley and his followers to embark on one of the most successful global campaigns in Christian history. This is an authentic gospel wildness which refuses to be kept in standard cartons in our tame churches and which breaks free to flow, weave, dance and connect wherever the need is found.  The early signs are that when we do this, when we go wild with God's kingdom, the punters raise an eyebrow and take notice. Now there's an AD-Mission!


  1. Yeah, the problem is that I reckon 'Unfiltered wild Christianity' means different things to different people.

    When I hear that particular soundbite, I think Mark Driscoll, macho Christianity, women are crap and should be seen and not heard, let's go shoot some deer and proclaim a triumphalist Christianity, us good, you bad, us heaven, you hell, let's slap some people about in the name of God.

    Were to I own that phrase for myself (and I'm not sure that I would ever advertise Christianity that way) I'd mean people before profits, saying that God loves the people who 'everyone' really hates (like paedophiles, drug-addicts and youth gangs) and actually proclaiming the love of God to people who buy into the kind of cheap Christianity that goes by the name of tough Christianity but which seeks to disempower the many for the empowerment of the few.

  2. And of course I write as a Brit bloke who does not recognise the macho sketch which is clearly close to home for you Pam. As someone who is at home with feminist theology, my 'soundbite' -which is simply a play off the Woodbine advert - is close to the image you construe in your response: wild compassion, full-strength love, unfiltered inclusion. God's love is totally wild and free, and this is what I see lived unfiltered and full-strength by Jesus, who undermines and overturns macho paradigms of power / disempowerment. Over the centuries this wild vision has been tamed, and sadly warped - as you point out. Put simply, I want to rediscover the wildness of the God who shapes a church in her image.
    Bless you for your honest and stimulating comment Pam.

  3. Yes, I thought we were on the same page.

    I think that this is another one of those terms where we're going to have to say 'It depends what you mean by....'