Question: Your advice to a prospective investor to Nigeria on marketing imported bullet-proof glass windows was quite insightful. What’s your impression about marketing such items as comprising tools of swinging the people away from reliance on God’s protection; and introducing marketing (a commercial concept) to issues related to the church? – Pastor Ayo Oyebanji
Before addressing your ‘two-in-one’ question I urge you to note this story which my father told me many years ago: – My father had a very close friend who used to visit our house quite often. As kids, my older siblings and I used to refer to him as Uncle Arthur. I faintly recall him thrilling us with the vertical movements of his car. Even as a little boy, it was something out of this world to witness the vertical rising and falling of this ‘fish-shaped’ car, when every other car I knew moved horizontally. I realised later in life that Uncle Arthur’s car was an early model of a French made car, “Citreon”.
My father and Uncle Arthur, both officers of two arms of the security agencies (the police and army respectively) were carried away by the thrills of their jobs in those days, and adventurous urge of men who were then well below 40 years, to have been influenced by referrals and commendations of their peers to patronize the services of a medicine man or native doctor (“Baba Alawo” as better known around). This so-called spiritualist was to administer charms that would serve as bullet- proof equipment.
After preparing the charms (during an adventurous trip of these curious security personnel to the native doctor’s sanctum), the native doctor casually requested which of the two friends would like to pose as a test object to determine the efficacy of the newly produced charms, while he picked up a loaded rifle that was placed on a wall nearby.
As both my father and Uncle Arthur wondered who would ‘bell the cat’ (serve as volunteer), an idea occurred to my father – That the native doctor should first administer the charm on one of the many goats lurking around, to ascertain the efficacy of what he had created. Out of sheer confidence, the man agreed to do so. Then my father took the already loaded rifle, aimed at the goat, and fired. The goat slumped and died immediately. My father and Uncle Arthur didn’t wait for any explanation as they both scampered out of the place.
Uncle Arthur, years later as lieutenant-colonel and the Quartermaster-General of the Nigerian army, was shot in the arm, then taken away from his residence in Apapa, Lagos during the early hours of the 15th gener, 1966, and later killed by the executors of the first military coup in Nigeria. His friend, my father, died on 30th desembre, 1992, after a brief illness.
You can make out from the story above that God indeed saves, and remains the ultimate determinant of when death should come. He moves in miraculous ways to protect His people from harm. What happened to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3:16-27; Daniel’s encounter with the lion in Daniel 6:16-22; easily come to mind. In spite of this, man still aims at achieving self preservation or protection through provision of physical means, and not relying solely on things spiritual which can’t be seen.
Celebrities and even prominent preachers of the word of God these days hire bodyguards, some opt for classes in self-defence, and others convert their homes to mini fortresses with gates, locks, alarms and also bullet-proof glass windows for their homes and cars. The activities of security operatives in church premises on days of worship conform with this.
The Bible bears narratives about the use of armour (today’s bullet-proof vest), exemplified by David’s confrontation with Goliath preceded by King Saul’s offer of his armour to him (Samuel17:38-39). This confirms the production and application of such as a tool of protection during periods portrayed in the Bible. Without prejudicing the result of any marketing intelligence exercise as prescribed earlier, and obvious impacts of foreign investment on Nigeria’s economy, Yi Qian’s activities in Nigeria (as published) will NOT swing the people away from reliance on God’s protection.
On marketing and the church, without taking to “Cafeteria religion” (picking those suitable portions of the Bible, just like “a la carte” in a typical cafeteria), please take another look at God’s words in relation to business, which marketing is a part (per exemple. Proverbs 31:16, Act18:1-3,Ephesians 6:6-7 Ecclesiastes 9:10, Genesis 23:7-16, James 4:13-15, etc ) to discern God’s endorsement of honest efforts at business ventures. The well known “Elements of Marketing” (marketing mix), with the 4Ps (Product, Price, Place or Distribution, Promotion) apply here too:
Product – Propagation of the word of God through a system of spiritual belief based on the faith that Jesus is the only begotten son of God; that all who believe in Him, in the light of what He lived and died for, are entitled to a father-son relationship with God which leads to privileges (per exemple. assurance of going to heaven after death; positive response to prayers backed by faith and close relationship with God). That God founded the church through the works of Jesus and its sustenance by the continual presence of the Holy Spirit.
Price – What believers forego of their old ways to take to tenets of Christianity. The positions of tithes and offering, honoraria to preachers as means of funding.
Place (Distribution) – Location of various centres of worship and their branches.
Promotion – The use of various tools of advertising, relacions públiques, venda personal (per exemple. preaching of sermons, evangelism), sales promotion (per exemple. crusade), direct marketing (per exemple. stickers, fliers, tracks) to promote the activities of the church. What about the new media (web site, mobile: bulk short messaging service or sms, multimedia service); blog, podcast-live streaming; social media (FaceBook, refilo, Flicker, YouTube, etc)? Pastor, you can see that marketing plays a part in all human endeavours. This is with God’s endorsement.
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