I wish. MoonPies are tasty and good for you…well, they are tasty. I would proudly tout their product. Alas, the makers of the MoonPie have not come calling and besides this space is not for sale.
A few years ago in a New York Times article the focus was on the number of ads we see each day – about 5000. We are well accustomed to seeing advertisements on billboards and television commercials, but nowadays it seems every available space is for sale. Not so long ago I actually saw an advertisement for a church (not in this city) on – are you sure you are ready for this? – a urinal deodorizer! Sure, I noticed the ad and the name of the church but now I definitely don’t want to go there.
Imagine what this could look like for the church. On Sundays when I step behind the pulpit I could begin the message by saying, “This sermon is brought to you today by Starbucks Coffee…” and then I could take a sip from my mug for the purpose of product placement. For certain endorsements I could preach on specific sermon topics. How about having brand placements on the baptistery from a pool cleaning company or sing hymns set to commercial jingles. Can you just imagine a big neon slogan perched on top of the steeple? Now that I think about it, I don’t want to imagine any of this!
Advertisers are latching on to the concept of lifestyle marketing. The basic idea being that they are more likely to convince a buyer to purchase their product if they can connect it with a certain lifestyle. You can see examples of this on Facebook with ads tailored to the individual user. To borrow from the same article mentioned earlier, apparently we should add to the endangered list blank spaces.
Maybe the church really is the last great hope because of all places this “space” cannot be for sale. Here I am not simply talking about billboards or, gag, urinal deodorizers. I am speaking more basically of what we mean by values, who we are beneath our name brands; who we stand with and what we stand for – none of which are for sale. It is all free, but not at all cheap.
The space of the church includes walls, but not just walls. The space of the church is about people coming together to celebrate; to grieve; to share; and to witness. The space of the church is where we go to find orientation and direction among the cacophony of other voices distracting us with their sales pitches of more and better.
What space in your life is for sale and what, no matter what, is not?