Chicken-Led Prayer

My friend Gregg has an excellent post regarding having a gift for preaching/teaching, and yet not having it line up with the typical American pastoral role. I want to comment, but I donít know that itíd be out of place of love (while showering – cause the best thoughts are to be had in the shower – the comparison that came to mind was slavery: the American slave system came about because those in authority weren’t able or willing to do all the work themselves, slaves didnít think much of themselves (or thought too much of themselves simply as their role, not as a person), led to a dependent and not-healthy culture). Once visions of ìFree the Pastors!î buttons and rallies started coming to mind, I realized it was a post I needed to sit with for a while, lest I go off the deep end.

Instead, Iím going to point out an interesting story from Marketing Vox:

Marketers have been looking for more ways to connect with spiritual Americans. Tyson Foods’ effort includes providing a free downloadable prayer booklet for mealtimes on its website, reports AdAge (via MediaBuyerPlanner). But Tyson’s act seems to be more than just marketing. The company’s mission statement, which it calls its core values, says the company “strives to be a faith-friendly company and to honor God,” and the company has placed 128 part-time chaplains in 78 of its plants.

Hmmm: mixed reactions. The jaded, GenX part of me wonders what good that will do – how hokey can we get? But the idealistic side, which occasionally gets to beat down the jaded side, recalls two instances:

  • My friendís father was home by himself for the weekend, and the cable went out. Well, *most* of the cable went out – the only channel that remained was one of the ìChristianî stations: you know the kind – full of big haired, hymn-singing women and WASPy men preaching sin management (they look a lot like folks talking about financial management – have you noticed that?). After asking God repeatedly what he had done wrong and why was he being punished, my friendís dad promptly called the cable company who said theyíd send someone straight out. The repairman arrived, seeming like a typical repairman – kind of gruff and blue collar, and the dad thought heíd strike up a conversation by talking about how hell must be something like watching the tv station all the time. But before he could, the repairman said that one night he couldnít sleep, got up to watch tv, watched this station, and knew there was a God out there who loved him and wanted to be his Savior. Yikes. 🙂
  • A friend and I were snickering in church during the announcement time. The pastor was sharing about how we have ìgift bagsî at the welcome center: we were encouraged to take these bags which contained information about our church and the upcoming Narnia movie, fill the bag with some Christmas goodies, and take it to our neighbors. A sort of ìevangelismî tool. I thought it seemed hokey, mixing spirituality and Hollywood. Later in the day a friend shared about how she had this feeling that she needed to connect with her neighbors but didnít know how, and the giftbags seemed like a sign from God. Ouch.

I donít know how effective of an evangelism tool this Tyson thing will be. Maybe the Church Marketing Sucks folks will have something to say (I *love* their website! The whole slick marketing thing doesnít always resonate well with my soul, but many of their critiques are right on).

A concern: it doesnít involve relationships – how will the folks who see this know what to do with it? . . . But what if it turns out to be like Philip and the eunuch where because the reader doesn’t understand they seek out a relationship with another who can explain?

A concern: what if itís hokey and just another way of marketing Christianity as part of consumerism America? . . . But what if itís just what someone – maybe even just one person – needs to begin to understand that God loves them and wants to be in a relationship with them?

Sometimes itís hard growing up in a jaded generation: the sun starts to poke through, and instead of rejoicing, I run for my sunglasses.

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