An estimated 100 million viewers will be tuning in to the Super Bowl this year. And it’s not news to you that many of those viewers will not be tuning in just to watch championship football. For many, the hype surrounding the Super Bowl has as much to do with the ads as it does with the game. Advertisers are forking out a reported $2.6 – $3.0 million per 30 second spot for the opportunity to pitch their product to a massive, interested audience. In an age where 50 % of viewers fast-forward through commercials, the Super Bowl remains an island of advertising opportunity in a sea of ad animosity…or at least indifference. So paying the price to deliver their message while the opportunity is ripe motivates companies with products ranging from cars to food to cell service as they put their best creative efforts out there for the world to see.
Effective ads grab your attention, inform you, create a positive image in your mind and ultimately motivate you to take action. If they’re pushy or manipulative they turn us off and we tune them out, but if they creatively communicate the essence of a product, making you more interested in it than you were before you experienced the ad, then they’ve accomplished their purpose.
And just like pushy and manipulative, aren’t effective in the advertising realm, they’re also inappropriate in the realm of sharing your faith. The Bible provides us with some insights on God’s approach for turning people’s attention toward Him.
Consider these verses:
- God’s creation serves as a billboard that shouts His glory. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. (Romans 1:20, NLT)
- Jesus gathered people in by demonstrating care and compassion for the lost. Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:35-36, NLT)
- Christian’s love for one another draws attention to Jesus’ message. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)
- Jesus’ followers are His ambassadors. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” (2 Corinthians 5:20, NLT)
- Jesus commands believers to go and tell the world! Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
It doesn’t take long to conclude that God’s got his own plan for letting people know about Him, and it doesn’t look much like a Super Bowl ad buy. In fact, He’s calling on you to play a part in His plan for getting the word out about who He is and how He longs for a restored relationship with every person on the planet.
So look for opportunities during and after the Super Bowl game to turn the conversation toward spiritual things. You can even use the buzz from the Super Bowl ads as an opening. Here are a few conversational questions to help you get started:
- Which ad did you think was most effective? Which was the lamest?
- What made the most effective ad appealing to you? What did you dislike about the lamest?
- Do you think ads are all about creating an image? Is image important to you, or are you more attracted to authenticity? Listen and then share how being a follower of Jesus has impacted where you are on the image vs. authenticity spectrum.
- Do ads tell you the truth? Or are they manipulative? How do you decide what’s true and what isn’t? Listen and then share what you believe about truth. For help with this, check out the Soul Fuel article The Truth About the Truth.
Remember, you’re not trying to “sell”; your friends on the message of the Gospel. You’re just called to paint a picture of who God is and what He’s done and let them decide how they want to respond.