by Lisa Holloway 10/09/2007 / Christian Apologetics
In the world of copywriting, particularly with direct response--that's the "junk mail" packaging with the easy response device enclosed--it's important to start with an attention-getting hook. Then you lay out the benefits of that product or service, preferably in a way that gets inside people's emotional needs.
You provide rational justification before closing, but that isn't really the selling device. The sale comes from meeting people where they live and convincing them your product or service will meet their needs or fix their problems. If there's a down side to it, you can turn that into another benefit somehow or just downplay it, but the main focus is on what it does for you.
But if Christianity is about a life-long relationship with Jesus, is that a good way to market it? At some point early on in a new Christian's walk, it seems that the fine print needs to become a little bolder.
So often I've heard stories of people who accepted Christ only to become discouraged because it wasn't the magic bullet they expected. God didn't automatically fix their problems and Poof! they were gone. Their instincts and desires don't always change right away. And they wake up from their conversion smack-dab in the middle of the same people and situations they were in before--people who don't see anything different in their appearance and who expect them to speak and act the same way they did before. And even if they do change dramatically, others may not trust the change because they know so-and-so.
What this amounts to is the need for an approach that is counterintuitive to "selling" salvation: an approach that combines laying out the benefits of a real, sacrificial love with support and preparation for the long journey ahead and the responsibilities it entails. An approach that makes them strong for the times Christ said we would have to take up our own crosses to follow Him.
Talk about the problems they will likely face and where to find solutions--prayer, the Bible and how to find God's direction in it for each situation, a community to grow and love the convert. Our responsibilities to new Christians doesn't end the moment they're saved any more than our responsibility to feed and care for our babies ends the moment they're born. We have to feed them and help them learn to walk on their own first.
"In this world you will have trouble BUT--(the story has a happy ending)--take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33b
Lisa Holloway is a Christian freelance writer, as well as a copy editor and writer for Inspiration Networks. She has served with the U.S. Navy and USAID/OFDA, and has studied in India. She recently wrote four stories for the compilation "Can My Marriage Be Saved?" www.NewHorizonWriting.net