1 Peter 3:8-17

A high school marketing program in Liberty Hill, Texas is working with local businesses for mutual benefit.

Two weeks before Christmas, marketing teacher Mikyela Tedder was approached by a local business seeking help with their social media. Within just three days, however, Tedder had sixteen businesses contact her. The concept has grown until now Tedder and her students are partnering with the local chamber of commerce in a program to pair students with local businesses in need of marketing assistance.

Students gain from the program by acquiring real-world job experience. The businesses gain help in all areas of marketing: print, video, merchandising, logo design—as well as social media.

Liberty Hill senior Saha Gollapudi looks forward to growing in the social aspect of the job, talking to multiple clients and planning events. Her colleague, senior Alex Carvalho, hopes to improve his communication skills through the program.

For their part, local business owners are happy to provide places for students to put what they’re learning into practice and, of course, reap the benefits of their know-how for their companies. They are spending money locally and also giving back. Jennifer Smith, a local business owner, says she wants to help pass the baton to the business owners of the future while strengthening the Liberty Hill community.

Let’s be clear about something. Though churches may do both, evangelism is not the same thing as marketing. Marketing is making the community aware of your church and what it offers. This can involve print, video, social media, logos, slogans, and the like. There’s nothing wrong with any of that.

But evangelism is about proclaiming Christ, and I tend to be highly skeptical of slick, one-size-fits-all “strategies” that promise to do that. Marketing is a matter of resource management: what is the smartest way to spend our budget to get the word out? Evangelism is a matter of lifestyle: how can we live in such a way that others learn of the hope we have in Jesus?

For starters, the writer of 1 Peter calls his readers to embrace an attitude of unity and humility. This must be their lifestyle even when it seems the cards are stacked against them. If they must suffer in this world, he writes, let it be for doing good, not for doing evil. In addition, they must be ready to explain their faith whenever hostile accusers demand answers. Even so, they must do this “with gentleness and reverence” (v. 16).

Live this way, the writer says, and one way or another, the world will learn about Jesus. They will see the difference he makes in the lives of his followers. They will see the courage with which they endure hardship and the resolve with which they obey his word.

That’s the sort of thing you can’t learn in a classroom. It’s something God does in the heart gradually but surely as we walk with him.

Scott Akanewich, “Helping Get the Word Out,” Liberty Hill Independent, 9 Mar 2023 <https://www.lhindependent.com/news/helping-get-the-word-out/article_7d15a800-bea8-11ed-a632-ab7e4cf138bf.html>.

Discussion

• How can you give “an accounting for the hope that is in you” (v. 15)?
• How is this different from what we might have been taught about “witnessing” or “sharing our faith”?
• What guidance does this passage give for bearing an authentic witness for Christ?

Darrell Pursiful is the editor of Formations. He is an adjunct professor at Mercer University and an active member of the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia.

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