According to my wife I am a borderline coffee snob, not in the sense that I act like I know everything about coffee or even use the right lingo, but I like a good quality cup of coffee. This means that I buy coffee whole bean, grind it fresh with a burr hand grinder, and make it either using a french press or a pour over. I know I just lost some of you in that sentence so just forget it if that is you, but I promise you will enjoy a fresh cup of coffee if you ever come by my house.
Recently when I went to purchase some coffee, fresh from the roaster, I was very surprised at the bag of fresh coffee that he handed me. It looked like a bag of pre-ground coffee that has been sitting in a hotel stock room for months. Initially I was excited about this sweet little coffee roaster that I had found, but then some of that excitement left based on the packaging that my coffee came in alone. I know this sounds silly to some, but we all do this with something. I came home, opened my coffee and brewed some and thankfully it was a good cup of coffee. At that point the packaging didn't matter as much as I had went through the process to make the coffee and it was delicious.
So, my question then is, does packaging make a difference? I would say absolutely it does as I almost considered not purchasing my coffee based on packaging alone. Maybe as someone who has a BA in Communication with a marketing focus I look at these type of things more than others, but I think to some degree we all pay attention.
The church and the message (the gospel) we are proclaiming is the same way. How are you packaging or contextualizing the gospel? How is your church packaging the gospel? Some churches proclaim loudly that "We are a Bible believing Church that preaches the old truth of the Scripture." That sounds good, except for when you come across arrogant and do nothing but make your audience conform to a bunch of man-made rules to fit your legalistic version of Christianity.
We here a lot about embracing being missional, and all about rejecting attractional, but somewhere along the way we have gotten this out of whack. We need a good healthy mix of both, missional and attractional. I hate to think that people reject the gospel because of how we present it and if that is the case then I have to question if you are preaching the message of the gospel with love at all.
Packaging makes a difference whether it is for a bag of coffee or how you and your church present the gospel. I am not asking that you water down or change the message, but contextualize the message in a way that clearly speaks the truth to the culture.