Is HE In You?

On highway 55 North, somewhere between New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi, is a billboard.

I have to ask.

Do the owners of Billboard Ministries or those who run the website (oh yes, that’s the actual name of the site) have a wickedly sharp sense of humor, or are they just clueless? And who, pray tell, is the intended audience for this message? Granted, the Christian populace probably gets it immediately. I mean, the HE in the question is appropriately capitalized to indicate that we’re dealing with a deity here. And I can imagine churchgoers from around the deep south passing by and smiling knowingly to themselves. Why yes, yes HE is. But I have to assume that the money spent for such advertisement is intended to draw in those who don’t know HIM or have HIM already inside of them (an idea, I have to admit, that creeps me out and only brings to mind SNL skits and alien movies).

It seems in the past ten years or so churches have gone to great lengths to bring in the so-called lost sheep of their flock. The internet is full of photos of billboards and neon signs taken by these outliers, most of them humorous, some of them hilarious, others outright damning. The “We need to talk. –God” billboards is probably the most recognizable campaign. But I wonder if the people in charge of God’s marketing know how their messages are received by their intended audience.

Some people share these slogans at dinner parties over drinks. I’ve received text messages and emails with photos of signs from various friends from around the country. Two very good friends of mine have several gallery quality photographs of some of these “ads” framed and hanging in their bathroom. (I can only imagine that they chose that room as the one room in the house, with possibly the exception of the bedroom, in which one is most likely to hear the words “Oh. Dear. God.”)  The statement intended is a sarcastic and wry one that everyone who knows Jon and William gets immediately.  Others, like me, write blog posts devoted to the subject – and make no mistake, the subject is the ludicrousness of the message and what can only be perceived as the Church’s desperate attempt to gain the attention of the non-believer. 

They’re gaining attention alright. But I doubt it’s exactly what they had in mind. And while many (even most, I would be willing to say) of these ads for church or God have good intentions, I can’t help but cringe at what some so-called “Christian” organizations are willing to put on their marquees.

I find it hard to believe that God needs a marketing campaign. But if it’s true that HE does (as it certainly appears), then HE needs to fire HIS ad agency for violating the basic principles of marketing – number one being: know your target audience.

One thought on “Is HE In You?

  1. You're right. These people don't seem to get it. Luckily, signs don't save and where people are stupid, God is big enough to do his work. Over the years of my own Christian experience I have learned that the best way to talk to others who don't believe as I do is to one, avoid the "spiritual vanacular" (sp) because the only reason I know most of those words and phrases is because I go to church and two, to not talk down to anyone like they are less than me because they don't believe as I do. I am just as sinful as the next human being, but the difference is that I have relationship with God and that makes life better, avoiding sin easier, and loving others natural.

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