Modern Marketing and the Church

13 Jul

Been reading through the Marketing Bullets of Gary Bencivenga. He’s an advertising genius, but let’s not assign him to the camp of Satan just for that reason. As a Thomist, I believe the the Truth is indivisible, and that we can find it in many places. The Bible, certainly, but not every truth is in there. So it’s always a pleasure to come across something that speaks to elemental human nature. It’s something that advertisers use to sell more stuff, but Christians also need to recognize this underlying human truth.

In Bullet #7, Bencivenga asks:

What Is Effective Advertising Anyway?

He comes up with the following:

So there really are few new ideas under the sun.

And that brings me back to something else John Caples said. He defined effective advertising as, “A believable promise to the right audience.” Far too many copywriters and marketers focus on just the promise (the flashy, fun part), and ignore the more demanding challenge of building belief. But without belief, nobody buys.

Please mull that over again, slowly enough to let it seep into your marketing memory.

Without belief, nobody buys.

OK, you have my attention, Gary. Hit me with the money quote!

Remember this always—

Almost everyone in the world, in every field of human endeavor, is desperately searching for someone to believe in. Be that person and you can write your own ticket.

This is the same pathway the Devil uses. It is not inherently good or evil, but when filled with the Spirit, with the Lord, it serves its intended purpose. Bencivenga, of course, sees another role:

Because the hunger for belief is so vast in every market, so deep-seated in human nature itself, you can tap into it again and again—infinitely—to make yourself and your clients rich.

Better he should pile up his treasure in Heaven, but it’s nice to see the underpinning of faith recognized.


Posted by on July 13, 2015 in Uncategorized


18 responses to “Modern Marketing and the Church

  1. Will S.

    July 14, 2015 at 12:17 pm


    I guess one lesson the church can take from this, is that it’s not enough to emphasize the promises of Scripture (eternal life with God in for believers, after this life) without inculcating belief, because the promises will mean nothing to people unless they actually believe them.

    For example, Mainline Protestantism went astray not only in de-emphasizing the actual promises of Scripture in favour of the ‘Social Gospel’, but also in downplaying the necessity of personal faith. Thus, they’ve seen their numbers drop drastically over the decades, and they can’t understand why.

    Evangelicals like Rick Warren and Joel Osteen, and the ‘prosperity gospel’ types, on the other hand, while similarly de-emphasizing the actual promises of Scripture in favour of emphasizing how faith can improve one’s life here and now, do emphasize the importance of belief, and contra the mainlines’ precipitous decline, their churches’ numbers have grown rapidly (for good and/or ill), even if evangelicalism’s fortunes in recent years have begun to decline.

    There are many lessons to be learned from this. We need to make sure they’re the right ones, remembering that what is most important is that we both teach Truth, and emphasize Belief, for the advancement of God’s Kingdom here on Earth.

  2. Senghendrake

    July 14, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Joel Osteen is a colossal heretic. I’d be wary of using him as an inspiration.

  3. Will S.

    July 14, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    I’m not; same as ElectricAngel, I’m pointing out that regardless of for good or ill, people can use the elementals of human nature to promote whatever particular end goal they wish.

    That’s why I said we need to make sure that the lessons we learn are the right ones; we want to stand for Truth, neither mainline nor evangelical lies.

  4. Will S.

    July 14, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    The Bible says ‘Train a child up in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.’

    Ignatius Loyola is said to have echoed this (‘Give me the child for the first seven years and I will give you the man.’), but so also have similar statements been attributed to Lenin and Hitler.

    Whether misattributed, they all express the same fundamental Biblical truth about the importance of education in molding a person.

    We can use that for good, as the Bible would have us do (and as Loyola no doubt felt he was doing), or for ill like the Communists and the Nazis.

    Recognizing what has worked for some, successful means, doesn’t imply endorsement of their ends.

    Same with ‘game’. PUAs may use ‘game’ to bed as many women as they can; Christians can similarly use understanding of female psychology to land and keep an help meet.

  5. Sean

    July 14, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    As a practicing Baptist, I have issues of those who push the line of “Mainline Protestantism”. Osteen is a colossal heretic, as the above mentioned. He’s not Protestant since, well, he’s unchristian. There is no Gospel in Osteen… or TD Jakes, or Kenneth Copeland. Heresy = unorthodoxy.

    Don’t get me started on Catholicism. There is no Gospel there, either.

    Churches don’t need marketing; they need solid, Biblical doctrine. Teach the Bible and the people will come if they’re of the Elect. “They did no remain since they were not of us.”

  6. electricangel

    July 14, 2015 at 11:25 pm


    I remind you that the word “propaganda” comes from the Latin meaning “for the pagans.” It is in fact a form of marketing, despite the negative connotations of the term after the Stalinists were done with it.

    Likewise, heresy comes from the Greek meaning to take away something. I could point out as aPapist that other Christian sects have taken away bits of doctrine that we consider, you know, fundamental. But most retain enough of doctrine to not quibble. There are billions who have never heard ANY version of the Good News.

    I think too few people will come, though I appreciate your optimism. We have to go to them. When they don’t listen, we shake the dust off our feet. The modern marketers KNOW that man hungers for belief. It’s only the modernists in government and science who deny it.

  7. ray

    July 15, 2015 at 4:17 am

    Is it April First again? Already?


  8. Will S.

    July 15, 2015 at 4:47 am

    @ Sean: Who here is pushing mainline Protestantism? I decried its flaws; far from promoting it. In fact, I left it behind two decades ago.

  9. Sean

    July 15, 2015 at 10:29 am


    I said pushing the line (description) not the actual thing. Us Baptists used to be Mainstream Protestantism until the Social Gospelism of the United Church, the Charismatics and the Prosperity/Emergent folks took it over.

    I would also remove Rick Warren from that paragraph of yours after his capitulation to Rome recently.

    @ Electric
    Heresy in Christian theology also includes additions and not removals. See TD Jakes and modalism. In addition, a great deal of Catholicism is blatantly unbiblical. See the Marian doctrines as a prime example.

  10. infowarrior1

    July 15, 2015 at 9:40 pm


    Given the nature of this blog. Fighting about the doctrines of the Roman/Protestant is forbidden if you don’t know.

    You can do so on your own blog or private correspondance thanks.

  11. infowarrior1

    July 15, 2015 at 9:41 pm


    I agree with your personally but this is not the place.

    • Sean

      July 16, 2015 at 3:10 am

      My mistake. Won’t happen again.

  12. Will S.

    July 16, 2015 at 4:11 am

    @ Sean: infowarrior1 is right that this is a pan-Christian-tradition blog; while like him, I’m Protestant, and I don’t have any doctrinal disagreement with what you’ve said, nevertheless, we choose not to re-fight the Reformation here, per se.

    No worries. We have no issue with people expressing their beliefs; we just don’t want to host pointless arguments between those of the different traditions. There are plenty of more sectarian blogs out there, of all kinds. We’re more focused on commonalities than differences, esp. between Red Pill Christians of various kinds, over and against Blue Pill ones of all stripes.

  13. infowarrior1

    July 16, 2015 at 6:48 am

    @Will S.

    Oh and about refighting the Reformation. It will be conducted electronically and with robots instead of real soldiers.

    Protestant, Catholic Mecha duel 🙂

  14. electricangel

    July 16, 2015 at 9:41 am

    @Sean, @Infowarrior,

    I don’t mind pointed comments, no offense taken. I don’t learn anything about my own faith without seeing another person’s critical approach. It’s for reasons like this that I love to read what, e.g. Muslims and Jews have to say about Christian doctrine. I inadvertently got into a discussion in April with a major rabbi and we exchanged book references; he never accepted my LinkedIn invitation, so I don’t know if he read Chesterton on Aquinas. His Talmud commentary was fascinating.

    I like Moldbug’s idea here that a truly devout Muslim can tell you nothing about Islam: for him, it is the world, like a chick inside an egg. Only upon leaving it can he see the egg.

    I figure there are enough people who haven’t heard the Good News, and there are enough people advancing demonic ideas. When those are all addressed, we can get back to some good, old-fashioned religious wars (the battle against Progressivism IS a religious war, of course) within the Christian Faith. I think the Mecha duel worthwhile, but you Prots are gonna have to resolve all the littler faiths first and come up with a Prot champion while we show the Eastern Orthodox who is boss. THEN the face-off.

  15. Will S.

    July 16, 2015 at 11:46 am

    @ infowarrior1: Yes! 🙂


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