Saturday, June 18, 2011

‘Branded: Sharing Jesus With a Consumer Culture’ by Tim Sinclair – Book Review

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The Metro Detroit area has a movement entitled EACH – Everyone A Chance to Hear - wherein 550 churches and ministries have joined together to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. So evangelism has been at the forefront of my mind and the minds of many in this region. So I was intrigued by the debut book from Tim Sinclair, ‘Branded: Sharing Jesus With a Consumer Culture.’

Here is the synopsis of this interesting book:

How Do We Market Jesus? We sport “Jesus Saves” bumper stickers on our cars and “WWJD” bracelets on our wrists. We post Bible verses on our Facebook profiles and Tweet profound quotes from Christian thought leaders. But when it comes to sharing our faith verbally, we become tongue-tied.
What would life look like if we stopped mass-producing Jesus and started marketing our faith by sharing relationally, from person to person? Using examples from our consumer culture, Tim Sinclair shows Christians that sharing Jesus has nothing to do with our trinkets or our t-shirts. It has everything to do with being personally branded by Jesus. With being permanently marked by our Savior.
Witty but true, Branded offers motivation and inspiration to put our God above our gadgets and to share our faith in ways that are honest, authentic, and – most importantly – effective.

Here is the biography of this author:

Tim Sinclair is a husband to Heather, and father to Jeremiah and Elijah, and (for the past three years) a co-host to Pam on the duo’s daily radio show. “Mornings with Tim and Pam” is heard by hundreds of thousands of people in Illinois and Indiana on Family Friendly WBGL, and is one of the top Christian morning shows in the country. The two have been nominated for “Air Personalities of the Year” at the ECHO Awards in Orlando, Florida.
Tim is a pastor’s kid who briefly attended the University of Illinois before getting into radio and marketing full-time in 1998. Since then, he has helped write, voice, and produce commercials that have been heard on thousands of radio stations around the world. Some of his past clients include McDonald’s, Word Records, Moody Publishers, and KSBJ/Houston. Tim and his family live in Illinois.
To connect with Tim: follow him on Twitter, on Facebook, or visit his website.

I found an interesting video on YouTube of Tim; here he is auditioning for the Public Address Announcer job for the Chicago Cubs. Great voice!

In the Preface, Tim shares his reason for writing this book:

I’m convinced that when it comes to sharing Jesus to and with the world around us, it’s critical that we recognize our own unique situations, talents, abilities – and then effectively use them to reach people within our individual spheres of influence. Other than the boundaries and guidelines provided by the Bible, nothing else should create a game plan for us because there is no right way for anything. There is no one-size-fits-all methodology.
I’ll set the background, and you take it from there. (p. 10)

In the Introduction, he shares why it’s so important that we share Jesus with those we know rather than to strangers on a street corner:

Your impact (and mine) on our friends, family, and co-workers has nothing to do with the sayings on our bumpers or the symbols around our necks. It has nothing to do with the number of Bible verses we tweet or the biblical names we give our kids. It has nothing to do with how many times we go to church or how often we put our money in the offering plate.
Rather, sharing Jesus with today’s culture has everything to do with being personally branded by Christ. With being permanently marked by our Savior. I can’t promise you the process won’t hurt a little, but I can promise you that it will be well worth it. (p. 12)

Tim shares the reason he thinks we as Christians are failing to reach the lost:

What’s the bottom line? Christians often try to change a person’s culture rather than let God change her heart. We try to force others to act like us, with the hope that they’ll eventually believe live us. That’s entirely backward. Heart changes lead to changes in actions, not the other way around.
In many cases, I think these Christian tendencies are a form of self-preservation. We would rather bring people onto our turf (where we’re comfortable) than step onto someone else’s. We would rather alter their lifestyle, culture, and habits, instead of change our routine. Subconsciously maybe we fear we’ll be eaten alive if we venture outside what we consider safe territory.
Jesus is bigger than the Christian culture-bubble you and I have put Him in. He can reach people anytime, anywhere. Not just Sunday morning at 9:30. Not just when people have started doing or saying the “right” things. Not just once people have turned their back on their culture. (p. 45)

I have to admit that I used to follow that line of reasoning – that we needed to change the culture. It is now clear to me that Tim’s assessment is the accurate one. We need to present Jesus to people, and let Him do the work in their heart.

Clearly, Jesus is not the problem when it comes to sharing Him with others:

When it comes to Jesus, I think it’s safe to say the product isn’t the problem. Jesus offers comfort for the brokenhearted. Rest for the weary. Strength for the weak. Healing for the sick. Peace for the stressed. Hope for the hopeless. I don’t know of a person who couldn’t use these things once in a while.
So the evaluation process must move on to Jesus’ marketing team. Us. You and me. It’s hard to admit sometimes but Christians (as a whole) are ruining the world’s appetite for Jesus. We are often the ones standing in the way of Christ, despite our best efforts to lead people to Him. (p. 50)

Tim makes an important point about another reason why Jesus is rejected:

I firmly believe that at least 90 percent of life’s problems are a result of unmet expectations. We get the most frustrated, the most hurt, the most offended, when our theories don’t live up to our realities. And that’s exactly what happened with Tiger [Woods]. Because of the picture Tiger painted of himself, our society had high expectations for him, and ultimately those expectations were not met. (p. 102)

I admit I was extremely disappointed last week about a particular situation. The reason was that I had unrealistic expectations. We need to be so careful that we don’t paint an unrealistic picture of one’s life as a Christian. We still will have trials; however, Jesus will help us through them.

In the Conclusion, Tim makes this important point about follow-up:

While Branded has relied heavily on traditional marketing principles, it’s critical that we not be so focused on attracting people to Jesus (marketing), that we leave them fending for themselves once they show up (customer support). Christianity already has too many customers and not enough marketers. (p. 120)  

The back of the book includes insightful discussion questions for each chapter. 

I think this is a valuable tool for small groups, as well as individual study. I plan on contacting our small group leader to recommend this book for our fall study.

'Branded' is a fast read, but it also is very insightful. As Tim stated at the beginning of the book, he asked some tough questions. But they are important questions that need to be asked, and I am grateful to Mr. Sinclair for bringing them to us in this book.

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Kregel Publications. I am pleased to be part of the Litfuse Publicity Group’s blog tour with these other bloggers

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