Reaching hearts (Tim Carter)

Wednesday, 2 November, 2011

Tim CarterTim Carter wonders how we reach hearts.

The people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light
Luke 16.8

It seems to me that Jesus' observation is nowhere more applicable than in the field of understanding what motivates people, what really matters to them, what will make them change their behaviour. The stakes for marketing agencies are high - get this stuff wrong and they lose the account. They are experts on the human heart and maybe we can learn from them.

As I have begun to reflect on the culture of the area that we are working in and to explore what might be a fruitful way forward for ministering here, two long-running ad campaigns have bubbled to the top of my mind.

With images of each household having a planet to itself and a strapline of 'Looking after your world', the British Gas adverts paint a picture of the place that we have moved into. This commuter dormitory in the suburbs of Telford is, as the chair of the Community Association described it, 'a collection of houses, not a community.'

The second set of ads to spring to mind are those of Lloyds TSB: 'For the journey.' This seems to identify a way of thinking about life that resonates strongly with much contemporary missiology - if less obviously with the culture I'm seeing here.

Marketing agencies are experts on the human heart and maybe we can learn from them

At first I struggled with the discrepancies between these two stories. It seems to me that there is tension here between two deep desires that have been identified in contemporary English culture by these ad agencies. One desire is for self-sufficient, private, independent existence. The other desire is for someone to accompany us, to secure our destination.

As I thought about it a bit more, I came to the conclusion that I don't have to reconcile these stories. Rather, it might be that a spark of creativity can be generated in the gap between the poles of the paradox held in high tension.

As we seek to love God with all that we are, and to love those around us with the self-giving, vulnerable, truly present love of Christ, so we believe that people's understanding of their world will be reshaped by the Holy Spirit and they will know that Christ walks with them.

About the author: 

Tim Carter is Pioneer Minister in Priorslee and Redhill.


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
We use spam protection. View privacy policy.