Tonight, during the 3rd quarter of the New England Patriots & Denver Broncos playoff game an ad ran with children reciting (preforming?) John 3:16 in what I think is a pretty cute way… I had to say I liked it. But, as soon as I saw the Focus on the Family logo come up, I knew that there would be a good bit of Twitter buzz about it. Sure enough, within 30 seconds of the commercial there were about 100 messages. The only ones that were’t strongly for it or against it were merely funny.
Social media doesn’t tell the whole story. It can’t because people only share what they choose to share.
“Tebow mania” and the sheer amount of vitriol toward Focus on the FamilyÂ compounds the truth that the Gospel is one of two things to people who resist it: a stumbling block or foolishness.
So, here’s how the response on Twitter breaks down:
- All of the people who liked it were already Christians, people who weren’t Christians didn’t like it.
- The use of kids was either “cute”, “powerful” and “classy”; or “manipulative” and “disgusting”.
- The connection to Tebow was mentioned pretty often, some thinking he paid for it. Others pointing out that FotF chose not to play it during the 49ers game.
There were a few mentions that all of the children were white. (I can’t confirm this, but I saw it a few times.)[EDIT: About 5 minutes after I posted it I found it on YouTube.] This isn’t true at all, the first child was African American and when they have all the kids together it’s apparent that there are a LOT of minority children.
But, Twitter has a blind-spot. There are a significant group of people that haven’t said anything about it: people who have been drawn toward Christ because of it. Realistically, people are not going to come to Twitter and say, “that kids John 3:16 commercial really made a difference.” But, Isaiah 55:11 promises that God’s Word does not go out without effect. The people it’s affecting are not here.
This is one of the ways that social media will always fall short. The first people that will hear about the commercial’s effectiveness will be spouses, parents and perhaps a few pastors tomorrow morning.
For people in ministry, we have to remember this “social media can be effective, but it’s affecting people in real life (I like the term “meat space“) and we may never see how.
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. — 1 Corinthians 3:7-9