What makes you want to buy something? Do you currently purchase more online or at stores?
Call to Action
The social media site Facebook now boasts some 1 billion plus users worldwide. It is the most used social media site in existence. By comparison, 100 million users log into Twitter at least once a month.
Internet marketers discovered years ago that Facebook could be used to sell products. Although Facebook is and has always been free, advertisements appear in the sidebars, and increasingly, in the “suggested” or “promoted” posts that show up in users’ news feeds of recent posts. Options to create a page have allowed businesses to share content with anyone who “likes” the page. Large companies and famous celebrities might have over a million likes, but even small businesses and local musicians can use Facebook pages to communicate with followers and fans.
A few weeks ago in December, Facebook introduced “call to action” buttons on their pages. Companies can use these buttons to ask their followers to take some sort of action—anything from signing up for a newsletter to purchasing a product. It is well-known among internet copy writers that people are more likely to take action if they are asked to do so directly. When internet advertisers and bloggers write, a call to action is an important part of the attempt to market products and services.
Facebook was not created to sell products; its original purpose was to give people a way to communicate with friends and people they know online. At this point, however, there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight to the ways people use Facebook as a sales tool. For better or worse, selling on Facebook is here to stay.
- Do Facebook ads bother you? If so, which ones? If not, why not?
- Have you ever bought something through Facebook or because of a Facebook ad? Share your experience.
- Do calls to action (when someone specifically asks you to do something) get more people to do it, in your opinion? Why are they so
Third Sunday after Epiphany
(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)
For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.
It seems that calls to action have been around for a very long time. Jesus asks those following him to do two specific things in these verses. He asks everyone to repent and to believe the good news that the kingdom of God is near. Jesus’ call to action is not intended to sell anything. Instead, he invites all he meets to become a part of the kingdom of God.
Neither of the two things Jesus asks of his followers is an easy thing to do. “Repent” means to turn back. Specifically in this context, it means to turn away from sin and back toward God. In order to repent, a change in behavior is necessary. If you’ve ever tried to change your behavior in any way, you know how difficult this can be. Our habits grow over time. We get very accustomed to doing things in a certain way. Changing long-held habits requires learning a whole new set of behaviors.
As Jesus continues in his ministry, he teaches his followers a lot about these new behaviors. Forgive people again and again, he says. Love your enemies instead of hating them. Give to the needy. Be humble. Serve instead of expecting to be served. It’s no wonder some people turned away and stopped following him. These are not easy things to do.
The other call to action Jesus gives in these verses is for certain individuals to leave everything and follow him. Again, this request is incredibly difficult. Leaving your entire life behind—family, friends, job, possessions—to follow a teacher is not something most people would be willing to do. Jesus knew that these men he called would be willing to follow him to a different way of living. The disciples may not have understood everything about what they were doing, but something attracted them to this plain, ordinary man and led them to change their lives forever.
- What are some differences between an internet call to action and Jesus’ calling for people to repent, believe, and follow him?
- What are some similarities?
- Why do you think the disciples were willing to follow Jesus?
- What might Jesus be calling his church to do now? What might he be calling you specifically to do?
- We don’t want to try to “sell” Christianity like a product on the internet. Spend a few minutes role-playing how you would invite someone you know to come to church, Sunday School or Bible study with you without making it sound like a sales pitch. Pair up with another person and get constructive feedback on how your invitation comes across.
- If available, take a look at your church’s marketing materials (brochure, business cards, newspaper advertisements, etc.) Share your insights with the group about how your church may be perceived based on these materials.
Dear God, we pray for those people who are waiting for a call to action to follow you. Help us to be someone who can invite them to become a part of your kingdom. We pray for strength to follow you daily. In Jesus’ name, amen.