The Most Interesting Church in the World

August 5, 2009

Have you seen this product?
Apparently, promises of cleanliness and not smelling like stale pungent sweat are no longer sufficient selling points for soap. No, people today want more from their hygiene products. Not a whole lot more, just a touch of something more…

I want to know how long the Nivea scientists worked to isolate the formula for happiness. It turns out, it’s orange and bamboo…the same “ingredients” in about twenty other soaps and shampoos. My skepti-sense is tingling…

Does anyone really expect to find happiness in their soap? Did Herbal Essences shampoo ever live up to what it was selling you? Even once, did time seem to stand still as you floated on air and cried out in sheer delightful ecstasy for everyone to hear…while you washed your hair? That’s what I thought.

But it’s not enough for soap to just be soap. It has to promise something more, because every soapmaker knows that the $8.00 bottle is the same as the $2.00 bottle.

I’ve noticed the same thing happening to restaurants. Lots of joints are advertising new foods, which is good. But they’re foods that don’t have any place in the restaurant they’re being served in! Backyard Burger near my house was advertising on their marquee some new salad with fruits and nuts and other healthy stuff. Nowhere did the sign mention the salad having a double cheeseburger with waffle fries on it, which seems to defeat the purpose of a salad to me.

I know they want to seem like healthy places to eat, but no one goes to a burger joint to be healthy! No one thinks, “I think I’ll go to that burger joint…I hear they have a fabulous spinach salad with cranberries and walnuts!” Such a thought would border dangerously on self-respect, which is about the furthest thing from my mind when I enter a Hardee’s.

And one of the worst is the church. We can’t just be church. We can’t just provide Jesus and a place to belong. We have to make promises about happiness and money and sex and relationships and health and all the other promises that we can’t keep.

I think Dos Equis has one of the best ad campaigns right now – featuring the most interesting man in the world. Even more than all the awesome stuff he does, I love how neutral he is to the product he’s supposed to be endorsing. Any other beer commercial would say you should drink beer all the time – and it should be this beer. This guy is realistic. Of course, he doesn’t drink beer all the time. And when he does, it’s not always this one. But chances are, it is Dos Equis…if he thinks about it.

Not to mention he’s a great hero. He’s not the strongest or smartest. He has a superpower that is completely subjective, yet somehow everyone agrees – he is the most interesting!

I miss the days when commercials just told you what their stupid product did. It won’t change your life. It won’t make you popular with the ladies. It will make you smell good. It will drive and not break. It will sweep your floor. It’s beer; it won’t change your life, but you might like it. That’s what this commercial says.

I know this sounds ridiculous, but I’m going to suggest our churches take a page from a beer commercial. I think the church could stand to take a step back too in our push to ‘market’ ourselves the same way the world does. We have a lot to offer people. We have the gospel of Jesus Christ, union with God, and a community of imperfect but loving people to belong to. But a lot of people won’t go for it, just like most people won’t like Dos Equis. For those people, we don’t really have anything to offer them, and we should stop pretending.

It would be pretty cool if a church took a literal page from Dos Equis and could actually hire the most interesting man in the world. I think he’d really resonate with most twice-a-year Christians! “I don’t always go to church. But when I do, I prefer Christianity.”

It’d be even sweeter if you got Jesus himself to endorse your own church and portrayed him as the most interesting man in the world. We see him changing water into wine, riding a donkey, feeding a crowd. Then we see him sitting in a fellowship hall, a styrofoam cup of coffee in front of him. And he leans in and says in his gravely voice that when he goes to church, he prefers First Methodist. Awesome.
Advertising is a huge part of our culture, so we might as well use it, but use it wisely. Most commercials are junk, which just makes the good ones stand out. Anyone seen any really good ones lately? Not just the ones that churches can spoof like the ‘Apple vs. PC,’ but any really clever spots?
Stay churchy, my friends.