Jeff Johnson: What kind of advertisement are you for God?

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Just when I thought I had seen my last word from God, I rounded the corner and there it was: “‘People used to solve their problems by turning to Matthew and John, not Smith and Wesson.’ – God.” Just guess what part of Texas I was in. I am thinking they did not receive the word that “God advertising” is so last decade.

jeff johnson130Jeff JohnsonAs a Christian, I am supposed to deliver good news. Maybe changing times demand I change my approach. Our church is not what I would call a flat-tire church, but we do need to ratchet up our creativity to get the message out that we still actually meet on Sunday.

Once upon a time, there were laws forbidding certain stuff on Sundays. My mom, in August no less, once sent me on my bike to buy a gallon of milk and a pack of smokes on a Sunday. The store was a mile away and closed. As were all the stores. Yes, Blue Laws. Anyone remember those? God apparently was the only show in town back then. Now, Sundays are days of competition. I have not seen the parking lot at Home Depot or Lowe’s on Sunday, but the rumor is it’s packed.

Since Sundays no longer are exclusively days for worship, maybe “God advertising” serves a purpose. It does hammer the message home in a way no other medium can. “‘You say my name often enough on the highway. Why not try saying it in church?’ – God”

God is not averse to getting some good publicity now and then. Even though those God billboards certainly do not pack the wallop they once did, the one I saw did provoke a troubling question for me, “What kind of billboard for God am I, anyway?”

How about our church? We are called to proclaim the good news, to comfort others, to give as we have been given—and more.

I generally am creative when it comes to proclaiming the good news. However, lately, I need lots of help. Drawing a fish quietly in the sand or having a stained-glass window for the community to see aren’t cutting it so much anymore.

texas baptist voices right120I contacted Scott Willingham  our Texas Baptist director of evangelism. Scott and his team provide not only great ways to share the gospel, but also encouraging ways to create a culture of outreach and evangelism in our congregations.

Scott told us something I never will forget: “There has never been a substitute for you.” Encouraging yet sobering words. I am God’s living billboard erected in a world of dissonance to shout the good news, to enable a culture that is accustomed to processing 1,500 messages a day to hear and catch God’s transforming message of love.

But it is not just a matter of bringing the good news; it’s a matter of being the good news.

He died to take away my sins. Not my mind. I need to use it more to share the good news. How about you?

Jeff Johnson is president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and pastor of First Baptist Church in Commerce.

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