Friday, March 02, 2007

An Emergent Manifesto of Crappy Marketing

So, there's a new book coming out soon from your conversational friends at Emergent Village - it's called An Emergent Manifesto of Hope. And they made a promo video for it and stuck it on YouTube, starring Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt. Those guys are both very smart and sincere (though perhaps a bit elitist), and I think they've stirred up some good thinking. But this video is horrible . . . I couldn't even finish watching the thing. Exactly how many times can you sound natural fitting the words "emergent manifesto of hope" into a sentence?? Uhhhh, how about NONE?

I'm quite certain that someone in the marketing department of the publishing house had the idea, and that Tony and Doug were more or less dragged into this, but come on! It's this kind of marketing that causes people to question the motives of Emergent in the first place . . . as in, it's not about rethinking faith or mission, it's really about selling books.

I'm not a fan of the label "emerging church," even though I've used it a good bit, and advocated for the category. But I've always made a point of distinguishing the emerging church (little "e") from Emergent (big "E") - it's confusing for people, and at times, pretty unhelpful. Anyway, this video is a good example of why I'm not a fan.

posted by Steve at 2:25 PM
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Blogger tony commented at 6:24 PM~  

Thanks for your thoughts, Steve. Sorry to disappoint. No malice intended, of course. We're just doing our best, like you, to follow Jesus (poorly most of the time, as you say).



Blogger Steve commented at 9:30 AM~  

Thank you for your words here Tony. You have shown more grace toward me than I did toward you. For that I'm thankful, and I apologize for making things too personal. If you wish, I will edit the post to be more appropriate - but I'll wait for your direction. When I go off and make a nuisance of myself like this, I leave the post there as a record to the world that I'm still a broken guy in process. However, if the words are hurtful to you, I will gladly remove them.

Thanks again, and by the way - I do know you guys are trying hard, and doing your best. You do good work. Oh, and I really enjoyed your book, "The Sacred Way."

Blogger tony commented at 11:34 AM~  

Don't sweat it, Steve. As you might guess, I have a pretty thick skin by now. And I, too, am reticent to ever edit my blog posts in an effort to revise history. So I say, let it stand.

The history: we were, indeed, approached by Baker Books, our publishing partner, about this idea. The filmmakers are a couple of younger guys who have launched their own production house called Creo. I think ours was their second or third project. They are great guys, very earnest and hard working, and they're trying to hone their skills in the world of viral videos.

The larger issue, it seems, is an issue about marketing in general. Is emergent/Emergent/Emergent Village a mechanism to move product? Surely not. But we have been convinced that the friendship that we started 10 years ago is life-giving to lots of people -- and the only whay most of those people know anything about it is because they read a blog or a book or went to an event. So, while "marketing" may be a dirty word to some Christ-followers, some of us have had to make peace with the concept and are attempting to live faithfully in a world of many competing messages.

But hear me well: criticism makes us stronger. We in Emergent Village do not shy away from our critics, but instead attempt to embrace them, respond to them, and adjust as needed. So, thanks for your honesty.

Blogger Bill Bean commented at 5:09 PM~  

Both of your gracious. Though I respect that the people who worked with this video were doing the best they can it is unfortunate. It would seem that a target other than the emerging church was who they had in mind. Granted, we tend to be a cynical, suspicious, and easily dissapointed group. I'm disappointed but it ain't personal.

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I'm Steve Lewis. This used to be my blogging home. My online home is now at When this blog was my active online home, I lived in Seattle. Now I live in London, UK. I follow Jesus (poorly most of the time), worship simply, read a lot, watch culture, go to school, listen to music, write, enjoy art, and drink a lot of coffee.
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