What Super Bowl Marketers Know that the Church Can't Miss

The super bowl this year was one for the record books. People watch the super bowl for a variety of reasons – some for the game, others for the commercials, and some for the half time show. The super bowl has become such a huge event in America it is practically a national holiday. As I was watching the game something stuck out to me about the commercials this year. It seemed like many of the commercials strongly featured Dads.  A few different companies this year decided to market their products by featuring prominently fathers. It was nice to appear to the sentimentality and bring father’s in the focus, but why? No matter how great the commercial is, the aim is not to pull on your heart strings but to sell you a product. These companies don’t spend millions of dollars to just give you warm fuzzies. We live in a marketing world. We are always being sold something, and often marketers know our culture and know what makes us tick better than anyone. And this year, for Super Bowl 49, Dads were the focus of the commercials. Watch some of these commercials in case you missed them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bd1qCi5nSKw#t=58

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoqWo3SJ73c

Isn’t this strange? In a day and age where many are arguing to eliminate gender stereotypes and where Father’s living in the home is a relic of the past, these marketers decided they could best sell their products by bringing fathers to our attention. While the marriage between a man and a woman is being redefined in our culture into a genderless union and while the home has been shattered by divorce, these marketers feature loving, gentle, and present fathers.

There is a crisis of fatherhood in America. The traditional family of Dad, Mom, and children seems to be rapidly fading. Many men ignore, run away from, or deny any responsibility they have when it comes to their children. Rather than rising to be worthy of the title husband and father many men are content with the title “baby daddy”. Men refuse to fight for their marriages and for their families and cowardly run from difficulty indulging every selfish pleasure their hearts crave.

But that’s not the picture these advertisers presented to us at the super bowl. These advertisers know us better than we think. They know that there is something hard wired into humanity that longs to be loved by a father. We long to experience the warm protective, self-denying, embrace of dad. The picture of Dad they presented to us is the ideal we crave, but not this is not the reality for many of us.

Children need Fathers. Despite arguments trying to minimize the father in the family, marketers know what many deny – we long for a Father. These super bowl commercials point to the great challenge of Christian men to be father’s who sacrifice, love, protect, and provide for our children.  We need Christian men who can demonstrate in word and deed the love of God the Father to our children. Every human being longs for this. Though our earthly fathers may fail us, we must always point people to the Father who never does. We must point them to the Father who displays his lavish love for us by purchasing our redemption. America has a hole and a desperate longing for fatherly love. The marketers know this. Does the church?

4 Tips for Practicing Christian Hospitality

The art of hospitality is hard to find in action today. We think hospitality is just cooking a meal or hosting a party. Hospitality is at least those things, but it is much more than those things. Hospitality is making people feel at home, comfortable, and open to great conversation. Good hospitality will make you drop your guard and be vulnerable. Hospitality is also a spiritual gift, that the Lord can use mightily for his name.

1. Invite People into Your Home

To use a gift of hospitality, you must be willing to open up your home. Our homes can be quite private. Our homes are our space. They are often messy, chaotic, and our place to isolate ourselves from everyone else. Therefore the act of opening up your home is an act of vulnerability. You are inviting people to your most intimate place of rest and solitude. You are inviting them into a personal part of your life.

Many feel a pressure to impress when they invite people over. Many people invite people over not to serve them or to be hospitable, but to show off they cleanliness, furniture, or style. Yes, it is a good idea to clean your house before people come over. Yes, a nicely decorated house is a plus, but it is not the point of hospitality. The pressure to impress others is not hospitality but pride. True hospitality invites people over even though the house still might need a fresh vacuuming. The purpose of inviting others into you home is to serve them, not to impress them.

2. Ask Good Questions of Your Guests

Again the purpose of hospitality is not to fill people's stomachs but to fill their souls. Some of the best conversations to be had happen around the dinner table or sitting on your couch. When you have people over, take the opportunity to ask some good questions that take the conversation deeper. Don't spend the whole night talking about the basketball game or the latest episode of Downton Abby. As a hospitable host you are seeking to meet the spiritual needs of others.

For Christian guests ask questions like:

  • How did you come to know Christ?
  • What have you been reading in the Bible recently?
  • Has there been a sermon or message that has impacted you recently? What was it and why?

For non-Christians ask questions like:

  • Do you have any sort of spiritual beliefs?
  • What do you think about Church? Have you ever gone before?
  • Do you believe in a god? If so, which god?

Throwing out a spiritual question like this can seem awkward at first, but it is amazing how the conversation turns to deeper things after you do so.

3. Listen Carefully, Respond Graciously

A key component to being hospitable means listening to others. Some people are just talkers. We have all been to dinner parties when one or two people tend to dominate the conversation. They talk about themselves, their accomplishments, and their hobbies. A hospitable host is not someone who is self-consumed, but truly listens to others. As you ask questions of your guests, deeply and truly listen to their answers. Don't begin preaching a sermon to them, but listen carefully and respond slowly in gentleness and love.  Listen for things like "What is going on in this persons life?", "How can I be praying for this person?", or "Where are they at spiritually?" A hospitable person listens to others looking for opportunities to serve.

4. Pray with Your Guests Before they Leave

Kaitlyn and I are trying to make this a practice anytime we have people over for dinner. After a great meal and some deep conversation, we take time to pray with our guest before the leave. It is a great way to finish the evening, especially when there has been some deeper spiritual dialogue.

The Urgent Need for Hospitable Christians

I believe that the church desperately needs more people using  the gift of hospitality. In my experience, people don't tend to open up to much in the hallway of a church or in the pastor's office. Some of the best spiritual conversations I've had with people have taken place in my own home. More Christians need to open up their homes to others for the purpose of ministry. People are not looking for some formal, cold, distant religion, but a warm, personable, relational faith community.

I also believe that hospitality is also a vital component for modern evangelism. Many of our neighbors would never respond to an invitation to go to church, but would jump at the opportunity to come over for dinner. May we leverage our homes for the Gospel, and may they become the missionary outpost scattered across the world to make disciples.

How has someone else's hospitality impacted your life? Share with us in the comments below!