We’re in the thick of the NFL playoff season. If you’re planning to watch a game or two this weekend, do me a favor: pay close attention to the commercials. You’ll learn a lot about men.

Advertisers have learned there are certain words and images that motivate guys to commit. Here’s an ad from Toyota, promoting the Tundra Pickup Truck:

 

 

Let’s break it down: A rough, gravel-voiced announcer. A dangerous situation. Huge metal beams swinging through space. Dirt. The sound of a motor roaring, tires squealing, metal grinding and cables snapping. Crowds of men cheering the truck’s narrow victory. A final angular logo that slams into place.

Now let’s look at a commercial you’ll never see on an NFL broadcast. It’s from the same advertiser, Toyota. See if you can figure out which gender this ad is targeting:

 

 

Flowers. Children. Butterflies. A female singer. A message of harmony. A logo that gently folds out onto the screen.

In case you haven’t figured it out, the Prius is targeted at wealthy urban women who think of themselves as eco-friendly. The Tundra Pickup is targeted at men who think of themselves as rugged and hard-working.

Here’s the point: men and women respond to different imagery. Sure, there are always exceptions, but the genders as a whole are quite predictable. Advertisers know this. So they customize their sales pitches. Toyota would never use flowers and dancing children to sell a pickup truck because men would hate it. It goes against everything men believe about themselves.

Which leads us to the church. Without realizing it, many churches have created a Prius-like culture. We focus heavily on relationships. Healing. Nurturing. Harmony. We decorate with flowers, quilts, ribbons and lace. Our ministries revolve around domestic tasks such as cooking, childcare, and education.

And we’ve softened our message. We’ve cleaned up the grit, grime and danger. The gospel is no longer a hazardous mission – it’s a personal relationship. It’s about family harmony. Getting along with others. Being nice.

No wonder we’re having trouble motivating men to commit.

Fortunately, there’s a book that can help any church recapture the adventure of following Jesus. It’s called THE BIBLE. It’s pages are stained with blood. It’s very message is danger.  As one of my favorite pastors often said, “The Gospel, properly followed, will kill you.”

So as you watch football commercials this weekend, ask yourself: is my church putting a Prius spin on the gospel? Are we unwittingly targeting women with our message and ministries? If so, how can we recapture the dangerous message Christ proclaimed?