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Packaging and the Gospel Message

>> Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Writers and marketers have many things in common. Both are intent on communicating to their audience. Both need to work on things like platforms and networking. Both are involved in research. And writers and marketers alike know that packaging is essential to hooking your fans (readers or buyers, as the case may be).

But how does this relate to the message of the Gospel? Do we need to (and can we, even?) repackage the Truth to suit our intended audience? To win them over or draw them in?

There are many avenues we could take with this question. And let's start by not putting God in a box.

His Truth (that Jesus was God, born a man, died a sinner's death for you and rose again, hallelujah) can be communicated in any language, as well as a variety of mediums and tones. Its core is unchangeable.

So as long as that core is present and placed in the proper position (as the jist, point or centrepiece of the message) we should be alright, right?

When we explain the Gospel message to our kids, when we help them grapple with Christian doctrine, commands and standards - like baptism or the Trinity, for instance - it is necessary to speak their language. I'm not a fan of making up "kiddie phrases" that dumb down who Jesus is and what He means to us, but I'm all for using situations and perspectives that kids understand to help them grasp the Truth.

Yvonne Beverly Blake taught me an important lesson at a recent writer's conference. She said that we have a responsibility as writers to nurture and teach our readers, not to hinder them or turn them off of the path.

But does packaging the Gospel in a unique or even unfamiliar way necessarily hinder (assuming the Truth is front and centre)?

I'm trying to capture the tail of this idea, to hammer it into my brain as I work on a YA Christian novel. Teens need to hear the Gospel in terms, words and stories that they will relate to. And that sounds significantly different than how middle aged women will need to hear it. Or middle graders. Or empty nesters.

Do you know your audience? And are you packaging the Message in a way that will hook them?

What say the readers?

In a Pondering Mood,

thanks for the pic! sxc/michaelaw


Lisa Mikitarian September 7, 2011 at 5:39 AM  

I agree that you have to connect with your audience (in addition to genuinely liking them). But I don't think the entire book needs to be written "catering" to them, either. I guess my goal is to meet them where they are and then take them some place new.

Love your ponderings, Di:).

Kimberly Russell September 7, 2011 at 5:53 AM  

What Lisa said. I like to think that my writing "shows" the gospel instead of "telling" about it. It seems like a simple concept and of course, it's not. I also apply the same theory to how I live my life. The flip side? Am I too timid in all these areas? Probably...It's a fine line.

Marji Laine September 7, 2011 at 8:47 AM  

Well said. It think that's what Christian fiction is about - putting our readers into situations they can sympathize with and allowing them to see how God can work through their own lives like He works through the lives of our characters.

Blessings! <><

Rita Garcia September 7, 2011 at 10:29 AM  

I enjoyed both your superb article and the comments that followed. I couldn't agree more, I want readers to be drawn to Christ and the hope that is found in HIm.

Joanne Sher September 7, 2011 at 11:00 AM  

Wonderful ponderings, Di. Pondering still :)

Niki Turner September 7, 2011 at 6:58 PM  

Excellent post, Di. I keep thinking about the difference between proclaiming the gospel of Christ and preaching "church".

Sara Harricharan September 8, 2011 at 11:14 AM  

Never thought of it that way before. Hmmm. Now I'm thinking. Thanks for sharing~!

Barbara Lynn Culler September 10, 2011 at 8:57 AM  

So, "P" is for pondering!

Thought-provoking post.

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