A Response to The Response

From time to time I like to break down examples of communicating front door content (content that is consumed outside the context of a relationship).

I hadn’t heard about the response until an inquiry was made as to wether or not my church was going to be involved and it was then that I had to ask what they were talking about. Rick Perry, current governor of Texas, wanted to hold a political rally that would get him some national news coverage so he invited some big churches in Houston to pull together 30,000 people to gather for a day of worship, prayer and fasting.

I’m not going to get into the politics of the situation so much as I want to get into the message that was communicated.

The Response is a terrific example of good intentions gone bad. Getting together for an entire day to worship and pray? Awesome! Disguising what is actually a political rally as a worship and prayer event? Bad form!

There are four pieces to this puzzle and thus four viewpoints to deconstruct:

The Politician

Rick Perry intended to use the experience to launch his push for the White House by getting the backing of the Evangelical Right and from what the news reports are saying he accomplished just that.

What he was saying: “We need to pray for America

What was being heard: “I’m awesome and more Christian than the other candidates

The Preachers

What preacher would pass up an opportunity to speak in front of 30,000? That said, I don’t see what the take away is for preachers as far as the benefit to their local community that they are trying to reach. I’d be curious to know what church vision lines up with this sort of public spectacle.

What they were saying: “God has a plan for America

What the public heard: “We hate gay people and liberals

The People

The people who attended were more or less just caught in the cross fire of the news cycle but truth be told they were just looking for a spiritual experience. They have deep concern for their country and this was their chosen way to express it. You can’t fault that.

What they were saying: “We love America and God

What was being heard: Nothing; their voice was marginalized by the political noise

The Public

The people who just heard about The Response on the news at best saw a run of the mill political rally and at worst were turned off to Christian spirituality.

What they were hearing: Here’s a quote from the Huffington Post:

“But context is everything, and the context for this event was remarkable: a governor launching a presidential bid by teaming up with some of the nation’s most divisive extremists to hold a Christians-only prayer rally that suggested Americans are helpless to solve the country’s problems without divine intervention. Some media coverage is missing the boat: the issue wasn’t whether it was okay for a politician to pray, or the size of the audience, but the purposes of the event’s planners and their disturbing vision for America.”

That quote sums up the worst case scenario for how the message from the event was received by the American public. Truth is there was probably a lot of people (Christians) who thought the event communicated a positive message.

What do you think events like this communicate on behalf of the Church?

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Vince Marotte is a communicator, futurist, speaker and consultant. He dwells in creative spaces and lives with ideas. Never satisfied with the status quo, he is always looking for a better way to do things. He recently wrote Context and Voice—communication design in our new media culture and also contributes regularly to Outreach Magazine.

8 thoughts on “A Response to The Response”

  1. Last summer, a group called “The Call” set up a day of fasting and prayer here in Sacramento. Over 40,000 people showed up to something that ended up being a right-wing extravaganza and a bashing of all things liberal and anyone who doesn’t agree with the Seven Mountains Postmillennial agenda. I continue to say that post-millennialism is the biggest threat to the evangelical church. It has highjacked the prayer movement and now threatens the same with worship movements. It is more than disturbing…it borders on evil.

    1. Mike; is it just me or is there a new movement of postmillennialism that is being championed by the prosperity gospel people? Which seems to be a flip flop from their ‘Left Behind’ theology of the last 50 years.

      1. Vince, you are correct. That is where it started. But now it has sucked in many from the Intercessory prayer movement and worship movements. Even a few Calvinists are joining the bandwagon. It is scary and very, very political. Just check out the Seven Mountains websites.

  2. This is a hard one for me. I don’t agree with the secular news that blasts this event so harshly, yet your points are well laid out & make sense.

    I recently heard some of the individual Christian organizers (not part of Perry’s political team) talk about their heart behind this event, and it is completely pure. They’re people that simply want to see revival & believe in the power of individuals praying together. I can’t point my finger at that. As far as all the evangelicals involved (even Perry), we may never know their true motives.

    This makes me think of when Paul said, “As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.” (I Cor. 4:3-4)

    There are probably better ways to hold these kind of events that don’t come across so right-wing. Hopefully, we will find them. Until then, I pray that people at least have pure motives.

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