Have you heard? There’s a contest offering a free trip to London and cash for a sermon that includes references to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. The winner will be drawn at random. Just click on the link above for more information on how you can become a marketing hack for Disney.
If Disney had its way, the fifth article of the Augsburg Confession might be ammended to read: "So that we may obtain this faith and sell oodles of movie tickets, the ministry of teaching the gospel and administering the sacraments was instituted."
Anyone who hears references to Narnia in a sermon this season should question the preacher’s motivations – how can we not? This contest blatantly corrupts the office of preaching by offering finanical reward for including marketing messages in a sermon. It’s one thing to promote a product/film (remember the marketing of The Passion of the Christ?) among faith communities with materials such as study guides, etc. But with its incentives for preachers to include marketing messages along side (or in lieu of?) a Gospel message, this contest goes much further. I don’t deny that there are many competing, corrupting forces vying for a preacher’s attention, but this contest stands out as an extremely blatant and troubling attempt to influence a preacher’s task.
Disney thinks we Christians should be happy about the release this faith-themed film. Perhaps. But we should also be severely disappointed with the marketing machine that seeks to meddle with the message of the Gospel this Advent/Christmas season.