According to Brandon Cox, the church’s perception is hurting. Big time. Scandals pile up, skeletons come clattering out of pastors’ closets almost every day, and about the nicest thing many of those outside the church can say is that Christians are out of touch. Instead of being salt and light, the culture sees us as ammonia and grit.
Whether we like it or not, Christianity has a “brand,” and brands mean everything when it comes to perception. Brand is the difference between long lines for the newest Apple product and empty Radioshack stores. Good brands craft a story and share it through every channel possible. And the church has the best story to share: the gospel.
So, how do we go about changing our “brand”? Cox suggests that it starts with social media:
“How can social media save our brand? It can’t, entirely. If the story people associate with the church as God’s people is to become a more positive one, it has to begin with our showing genuine love to each other and to the people living in proximity to us. Right now, I sense another potential great awakening for the church that is less about creeds and more about deeds. Church leaders are pressing forward with their congregations to show the gospel and to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those around us. This is all good, and social media gives us the opportunity to share this story well.”
Here’s how he thinks the church can share the story well via social media:
Declare a cultural ceasefire.
While we must not water down the truth of Scripture, social media arguments do little to change the conversation. Often, all the world sees of us on social media is what we’re against.
Be for something.
Instead of shouting out what we’re against, Christians should take the opportunity to share the love of Christ and the power of the gospel.
Make a visible difference.
Cox touts the group People of the Second Chance as doing a great job telling stories of grace. The Christian brand should be for fighting injustice, ending sickness, combating human trafficking, and bringing healing.
Pastor Doug Ponder in an article on Christianity.com also thinks Evangelicals keep “shooting themselves in the foot” concerning the biggest cultural issues, especially when it comes to sexuality. We say we love, but too often all anyone sees is disgust:
“Some may protest, ‘But I have never been hateful anyone,’ all while forgetting the story of the Good Samaritan. There Jesus taught us that the lack of merciful action toward the wounded man was a sinful failure to love their neighbor. The implications of this are obvious, difficult, and eternally important.
“Additionally, many evangelicals are prejudiced and self-righteous. Instead of adopting a posture of humility and grace, too often we sound like the Pharisee who prayed, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like those sinners’ (Luke 18:11). Can you blame someone for hesitating to trust Jesus when they see his followers living like that?”
What do you think? Is the Christian “brand” as broken as these articles suggest? What can Christians do to change the perception?
John UpChurch is the senior editor of BibleStudyTools.com and Jesus.org. You’ll usually find him downing coffee at his standing desk (like a boss).