Engaging CultureChristian Media

Let’s Stop Blaming God for Our Failures

Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much of my career working in advertising and marketing, but after a Christian event where nobody shows up, when I hear the phrase, “Well, the people that needed to be here were here,” it sure seems to me like an excuse. We hear it all the time when only a handful of people show up to an event: “Well, only 6 people came, but I believe those were the people God wanted here.” Really? I don’t want to sound harsh and ungodly here, but anytime something good happens, I want as many to show up as possible. Of course I want those who were meant to come show up, but why shouldn’t that be a huge number?

But we’re so used to framing our practical failures in spiritual terms, it’s just easier to blame God than our poor planning, lousy marketing, and boring advertising.

How about this:  Let’s pray the right people show up, but let’s do our best to get everybody possible at the event. Then if no one shows up, instead of deflecting to God, let’s take a hard look at our strategy, our creativity, and our marketing.

Of course let’s pray that God blesses everything we do. But let’s cut the pretentious garbage about God approving our failures, and hold ourselves to a higher standard.

Any objections?

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  1. Couldn’t agree more! If we have something of value, it’s worth investing time, money and marketing in to so that many are able to receive… And what’s more worthy than the gospel and all that we do related to the good news? Well said!!!!

  2. Yeah, it can be really dangerous when denial festers into pseudo-spiritual groupthink. That said there are times when a Philip is called to leave a throng to go minister to one lone Ethiopian eunuch in the wilderness. But usually we need to be a bit more honest about our failures, shoulder the responsibility instead of presuming every outcome is God’s will by some manifest destiny, and draw on the talents around us to make improvements instead of numbing them into mindless automatons who are trained to join in the chorus of blaming God.

  3. There is a reason why people don’t show up to Christian events, churches don’t grow, the children’s ministry is boring and ratings drop along with the donations… and God has nothing to do with it. It’s called human error. I cringe when I hear that excuse. Over-spiritualizing situations and then using a fig leaf to cover lack of competence is delusional. Teaching the belief that spiritual loopholes exist is nuts. It’s past time to get real and honest about why people don’t show up, tune in or support Christian events. This is a relevant topic to cover, great post!

  4. I think God does His part and expects us to do ours. I suspect quality advertising, marketing, something beyond “putting up a sign,” might be part of our job. Great thoughts.

  5. Could this also apply to the “Oh well… God’s in charge” that we voice when our candidate doesn’t get elected? It seems easier to blame God than to do the very hard work of effectively campaigning.

  6. I really appreciated this post. As someone who works in marketing and development in the nonprofit sector, I’ve heard these statements numerous times over the years. Especially pertaining to fundraising events.

    As I read this post I couldn’t help thinking of the parable of the three servants in Matthew 25 and the excuses offered by the third servant upon his master’s return. Don’t be that third servant. Be the first servant.

  7. just yesterday I read a facebook update from a fellow Christian comedian who said they felt led to NOT do any “self promotion.” – so, they did not bring any business cards with them to a big networking event and, when they were asked to do an interview, they felt that the Spirit told them not to. Now – I ain’t gonna argue with God or His Holy Spirit – but it seems to me that whatever your profession is, it’s “okay with God” to promote what you have to offer. It is not MORE “godly” to fake humility and not promo yourself. That is really dumb. Nobody – Christian or not – who operates a business will survive without promoting or advertising what they do. All that to say – yes, we DO need to trust God and pray for our events and businesses – and then also do our best to market and advertise what we have to offer.

    1. Absolutely Dan. Thanks for the comment. The bottom line is that if they’re not passionate enough about their message to share it with others, why should anyone else? Of course we don’t want raging egos in ministry, but that’s a LONG way from not talking up or promoting anything…

  8. Great point made. There is without a doubt, a need for discernment in the decisions we make; especially when the work itself is inspired by something transcendent. It is however clear that our human shortcomings can be easily masked within an otherwise providential outcome.

  9. I took the first step to my dream and did a youth event in September (you may remember a while back I commented on one of your posts that led to our entire youth project theme & branding). I publicized my heart out. Hundreds of people liked the idea and were excited, and said they would go. Only about 80 showed up.

    I said, “well, the people who needed to be here came.” and then am devoting the rest of this fall to study & plan publicity so we’ll have 800 next time.

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