“Free Pizza, Free Eternal Life!” That was the advertisement one of the campus groups at the university where my husband teaches put out the other day. I guess if you’re really hungry and really love cheap pizza, you’ll take the “free eternal life” as a throw-in- even if it comes with a short spiel about “The Four Spiritual Laws.”
It’s funny to think about all of the associations we can make in an effort to sell Christianity. These days sports and Christianity are a big sell. Take Tim Tebow’s Easter appearance the other day when 15,000 people showed up. (Those Texans like things big, don’t they?) Or, Bubba Watson’s testimony of faith following his dramatic victory at the Masters.
I”ve got to hand it to Tebow and Bubba, too. Their willingness to talk about their faith in the public sphere takes guts. Let’s just say I’m a fan.
It’s the rest of us Christians and leaders in the church I’m inclined to poke fun at. Because while, for example, Tebow and Easter may be a subtler association than free pizza and free eternal life, they still spell “gimmick.” They are still an example of how we in the church get stuck in applying slick advertising approaches to evangelism. We can tend to make our Christian celebrities into “fields of dreams”: if we just “build it” (or invite the latest billboard for Christianity) “they” (the crowds that need to be evangelized and see how cool we and Jesus are) “will come.”
If you didn’t catch Colbert’s Easter routine, which features some all-in-good-fun pokes at pastor Jim Champion, who invited Tebow to speak at his megachurch, here it is. Hats off to all my Australian friends for your work to save the “Easter bilby,” too: