Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Branded Blog Tour: The Basics

About the Book: "The church spends $1.5 million for every one new follower of Jesus. Apple sells 26 iPads every minute. What is it that makes Apple so exciting and Jesus so boring? What is it that compels someone to bring their iPod everywhere and their Bible nowhere? In a word: marketing. Jesus is a life-changing product with lousy salespeople-people who are intimidated and embarrassed by the word "evangelism" and who show more enthusiasm for their gadgets than their God.

What would life look like if we stopped mass-marketing Jesus and started marketing our faith like Nike and Apple market their products--sharing relationally, from person to person? Using examples from these and other successful companies, author Tim Sinclair challenges Christians to throw out their casual attitudes toward faith and sign on for a marketing campaign for the Savior.

Written with the wit and wisdom of an experienced marketer, Branded peels away the feelings of fear and encourages readers how to share their faith in ways that are honest, authentic, and, most importantly, effective."

About the Author: "Tim Sinclair is a radio personality on one of the top Christian morning shows in the country, Mornings with Tim and Pam. For over a decade, he has been helping radio stations and various other businesses creatively and effectively market themselves. His award-winning productions have been heard on more than 2,000 radio stations worldwide and recent clients include McDonald's, Word Records, Moody Press, and the country's most-listened to Christian nonprofit radio station KSBJ/Houston. Tim has written for CCM Magazine and the Huntsville Times. For more about Tim, please visit his website,"

My Thoughts:  I have a love/hate relationship with this book.  It had me at hello but it lost me when we tried to move in together.  I discovered there were a few things that made us incompatible, and I've been mourning ever since.

Let's start with what I love.  The first line, the hello if you will, caught me immediately; "It's weird.  I'm a Christian, and even I don't like us very much. As one who has been known to state, "Lord, save me from your followers (of which I am one).", I could relate to this wholeheartedly.  I don't know if it's because I became a Christian as an adult or if it's because of my heart-on-my-sleeve personality, but I can't stand the insincerity and pretending anymore than the author.  I was nodding in agreement as I read the closing lines of the introduction; "...sharing Jesus with today's culture has everything to do with being personally branded by Christ.  With forever being changes by Jesus.  With being permanently marked by our Savior.  I can't promise you the process won't hurt a little, but I can promise you it will be well worth it."

He describes his book as more of a "pep talk" than a "playbook" and as such it works well.  He is correct in saying that we need to dump our checklists and our "one-two-three process for leading a friend to Jesus".  I don't want people to believe in Jesus "just because" and I'm one of the ones asking the hard questions sometimes, so I agree that we need not fear these.  If Christianity is true, then it will stand despite persecution, despite questioning, despite training people to think for themselves and to be themselves.  I'm not interested in playing church and I agree with much of what is presented in this book.  Life is messy, Christianity is messy, and we can't over promise that life is easy with Jesus so just give him a try. 

It ain't.  But there is joy and strength to be found in the mess, in a relationship with a living God who walks the messy road with you. That's the truth.  And that's the "branding" I hope to portray through my very messy life.

I was in love with the pep talk.  We were on the same page and when it moved to the playbook chapter with practical application I was ready for the author to bring it home.  And there's where he lost me. 

As a pastor's wife I felt sucker punched when many of the suggestions seemed to draw people away from the local church rather than working within the church family to live out our faith in real and meaningful ways. I became concerned that some of the suggestions would be detrimental to those struggling or those new to the faith, as well as the church body as a whole.  It seemed as thought there were an underlying attitude towards the church structure.  I'm frequently disappointed in the western church model and often wish my husband had been called to be a plumber instead (GRIN) but believe the church body to be God's design for his people.  We need each other for encouragement and we can do more to "re-brand" Christianity together than we can do on our own.  Although some suggestions were excellent (start that neighborhood poker game, befriend those considered unlovely, etc.  I'd add have a Grubby Sunday but we pretty much come as we feel comfortable at our church already!), the ones that concerned me did so to the point that I no longer felt comfortable recommending the book.  Our church has many newer Christians who are not in a "religious rut", as well as those of us who may be in more of a discouragement rut than anything else, and my fear is that there would be confusion and more harm than good done.  I also found some of the suggestions to be inconsistent and illogical. For instance, how do you provide free activities to the community if you're telling people to buy their neighbor kid a new bicycle rather than give their offering?

Tim Sinclair very graciously offered to respond to my specific concerns regarding this chapter.  I emailed him with the question from the book and my reaction to it, to which he responded.  I will share this Q & A in a separate post, for the sake of readability.  Please do read that as well, as it goes into more detail.

I'm left with mixed feelings on the book.  Much of what he has to say needs to be said.  Much of what he says reflects my heart as well.  But my concerns for people not able to discern his target in chapter 13 (those in religious ruts), and the harm that could come if they choose to use these suggestions as an excuse,  keeps from me embracing it completely.  Maybe I am being too protective, I don't know, but there's something here that leaves me wanting.


*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book at no cost through LitFuse Publicity.  A positive review was not required, only an honest one. All opinions are my own.  To read what others had to say, check out the Blog Tour.*


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