How To Make Your Christian Book A Sensation, Or Religious Hangovers

Last week I wrote about John MacArthur’s book “Slave”. I first caught wind of the book from a short infomercial of sorts where JMac (not sure which I enjoyed more, the great discussion in the comments or hearing this nickname!) claimed the book contained a truth that changes everything about what it means to be a Christian. JMac had found this one thing tranforms how we view following Jesus, and he just had to share it with the world. And though I tend to not pay much attention to the old-school radio preachers, I admit I was intrigued, so much so I still remember it.

Christian publishers have the same goal as secular ones – push books. Donald Miller often speaks on how our culture tries to sell dish soap as though it will change your life, which is of course ridiculous, but because Christian book sellers are dealing with spiritual matters they don’t have to do much stretching to lead customers to believe their product will change their life.

So they maket the book as though it contains something revolutionary. I bought a Brian McLaren book, The Secret Message of Jesus, long before I’d ever heard of him or the emerging church. I didn’t buy it for it’s progressiveness, but because I was fell for the marketing – that Brian had uncovered some truth that we’d all missed over years. Coming out around the same time was The Lost Message of Jesus by Steve Chalke. Both books cleverly suggest they’ve found something few else have, and after $15.95 we too will have it*.

Good book, even better marketing

Similarly Francis Chan, David Platt, Shane Claiborne have books that are billed as ones that will rattle your faith. I’ve pointed out before that the trend right now is to produce a sermon or a book that will slaughter the audience, figuratively speaking of course, and be the catalyst that finally provokes the church into action, waking her from a long, deep sleep.

Now I could write an easy post lamenting marketing spiritual thing. And gosh it would be so effortless, posts like that practically type themselves.

But I think beyond rethinking marketing, we need to remember what, or rather who, changes people. Because nothing takes Jesus’ place. We don’t change people, Jesus changes people. I think we actually believe these books and messages can save us.

Now I’m not knocking those books. They likely have some really profound things that people have missed. But more and more I’m finding you can’t replace a transformative encounter with Jesus. We merely try to push away barriers and we let Jesus do his thing. We need to stop selling Christian books as if they could change the world. Hyping them up as the next best thing leaves people with religious hangovers. And the only cure for a hangover is more of what gave it to you.

*I actually enjoyed both these books, but their marketing was cheap (I fell for it, may it be noted).

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16 Responses to How To Make Your Christian Book A Sensation, Or Religious Hangovers

  1. Jason Dye says:

    and of course your title grabbed my attention… LOL

  2. Darius says:

    Yeah, I particularly don’t like books that sound like they finally figured out Christianity after 2000 years of people getting it wrong. That isn’t Biblical. Maybe they found a great way for us to understand Christianity in our context, but they aren’t the first ones to do that… nor the last.

  3. Su says:

    Yet another way that Christians try to compete with culture and, if not losing, at least don’t win. :/ We really don’t have to sell Jesus the same way we sell dish soap.

  4. David says:

    I don’t buy books anymore. I take them out from the library or on CD or just read my Bible with Jesus.

    My book is really something that the church global has not really grasped. It’s free if you or anyone else wants it. 🙂

  5. Angela says:

    Freakin’ marketing gets me everytime. I buy books by how pretty their covers are and how much I think they will change my whole life. I also buy lots of cook books because of the pictures but never use them. It’s a good thing I’m a thrifter and don’t pay full price for anything…

    • my wife checks out of the library tons of cookbooks yet we never use them. There is this allure that if this thing will change everything and make you a better (blank).

      Keep on thriftin’ Ang, but don’t fall for the same old tricks.

  6. Good word, Charlie. We as Christians can fall into the same traps as the world and have to be careful because we are always representing Him. Thanks.

  7. Larry Hughes says:

    I am getting a lot of revelations from God lately. Perhaps I should get a marketing rep. to come up with a catchy title for a book for me.

  8. Pingback: How I Nearly Lost Another $14.99, Or | Charlie's Church of Christ

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