Day: September 14, 2011

let’s not be too quick to write off evangelical self-promotion

Bullhorn from September 14, 2001

A bunch of friends have recently alerted me to this post over on Justin Taylor’s blog, Between Two Worlds. It quotes Dane Ortlund’s bracing critique of lots of the ugliness that Christian leaders often buy into on social media.

The storm of blogs and tweets in which pastors pedal their own wares or trumpet which famous leader or theologian they’re having coffee with can get pretty distasteful.

But I’m wondering if maybe we’re a little too quick to write off self-promotion.

I’m struck by the number of times the Apostle Paul says things like ‘imitate me’ or points people to the example of leaders he’s sending to represent him. (Although, the Corinthian correspondence indicates that he needed delicacy and finesse not to be drawn into the game of Compare The Leader that the church was playing.)

And I’m fascinated by the way Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield harnessed the power of celebrity (ie. self-promotion) to extend the reach of gospel ministry.

Is it possible that there is such a thing as genuinely evangelical self-promotion?

Can self-promotion be pure-hearted, gospel-shaped, God-honouring, Christ-centred and Spirit-empowered?

Obviously, I think it can (and not just because I’m planning a series on what Christian leaders can learn from Facebook’s ‘Social Design’ principles).

But in order to get there I’m convinced we need to pull the rug out from under the assumption that for God to be glorified, humans must be diminished.

The God who meets us in the Lord Jesus — in his free and sovereign grace, achieving his purposes first and foremost… He doesn’t diminish us. No! He redeems and enables us to be truly and fully human.

And so delighting in and foregrounding that doesn’t have to mean that God is banished to the wings.