‘Crap’ For Christ: The Medium is the Message

There has been a lot of discussion about the  fake Martin Luther King quote floating around the net. Sadly these quotes from the leaders of The Crossing Church in Elk River are not fake, I wish they were.

When asked about giving away free cars to those who attend their church Pastor Kelly Dykstra says,

‘I will happily draw someone into Church using a false God.’

When quizzed about his Church giving away free TV’s and electronic goods in order to encourage people to follow Christ, Pastor Eric Dykstra replied,

“I have no problem bribing people with crap in order to meet Christ,”

See the full story here

The team at The Crossing Church could learn a lot from Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan was both a believer and prophetic analyst of media, and coined the term  ‘the medium is the message’. McLuhan noticed that during the Nixon vs JFK Presidential debate, those who listened on the radio felt that Nixon had clearly won the debate hands down, his arguments and content was the strongest. Yet those who watched the debate on TV, felt that JFK had won.

When asked why, viewers felt that JFK was more youthful, tanned, good looking, and energetic. In contrast Nixon was seen as old, pasty, stressed and tired. What the watching audiences did not know was that JFK had a team of make up artists working on his image. Nixon made the crucial error of passing on the option of make up, believing that people would take him on the strength of his content. No politican makes that mistake anymore.

McLuhan noted that in the age of television, and imagery, that content cannot be separated from the carrier, that the medium is the message. Therefore it is impossible to give away cars, playstation and plasmas and then tell people to give up everything and to die to self in order to follow Christ.

In simple terms I discovered this the other day, when I told my three year old daughter that she could not have an easter egg, while I was munching on one myself. She did not buy it! My actions worked against my message. So it is the same with our outreach. We must constantly ask how our actions and communications can work against the content of the gospel.

This of course raises thousands of questions. Which I do not have time to address in a short post. I do however wholeheartedly encourage you, if you have the time, to check out Marva Dawn’s excellent book Reaching Out without Dumbing Down. Which explores this tension with incredible grace, lashings of challenge, Biblical reflection and great intelligence. The first few chapters alone are worth the price of the book. Ok…now where did my make up team go?


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