We live in an instantaneous generation. We want our food fast, our information even faster, and we want it all-now. We are consumers and the instant messages which we receive are targeted directly to us as a result of our consuming habits. What we watch, listen to, where we go online, what and where we eat and what we do at work, school and play are seemingly recorded in a data base filled with demographics. It is interesting to note that many people in the media are appalled that the government may be monitoring the telephone calls of suspected terrorists. Maybe we should be more concerned that every American who buys anything is monitored by department stores, cell phone companies, and even pharmaceutical companies! Instead of picturing President George W. Bush with headphones on listening to your conversation with your college buddy about your golf game, I’m more concerned about blahblahblah.com listening in on the conversation to my sister on what I’ll buy my wife for our anniversary. Many people think that it is politics that divides us but I think it is more likely that demographics is the culprit.
If you think that segregation was over sometime in the 1960’s think again. Somewhere in a California air-conditioned computer room, segregation is alive and well in the data-bases of consumer know how. In that file is our habitual DNA. Age, color, who we are married to are the starting points. Our children’s name and ages, our religion, income, and even what book we read last summer is separated into a grouping with others who are targeted by what we have bought and what we most likely will buy in the next ten years. In this act of the marketing spy group a confusing demographic arises, the confusion of want versus need.
You may want a new house or car. You may need shelter or transportation. A car salesperson may try to get you to buy a more expensive car than you need and a real estate agent may try to get you to buy as much house as you can qualify for. This creates a consumer habit of consuming what we want and being ungrateful for getting what we need. As of late many Christian products and resources have been marketed in this manner. When applying marketing principles of target audience and studying demographics in ministry we miss an important “big picture” component and that is what Chuck Colson calls The Cultural Commission. In order to provide life changing media we have to decide who we are marketing to. The Great Commission of telling the world about the Gospel is something that seems to have fallen to those special people who are called to the mission field. While most of us complain and sometimes even picket and boycott mainstream media we fail to look at the Biblical Demographic that applies to the outreach. While we can’t be all things to all people, we can be the one thing for all generations. We have the one thing that all people need.
While demographics separate the young from the old, rich from the poor, and the “religious from the non-religious,” Biblical Demographics emphasizes that authenticity, relationship, and truth are based on targeting all generations, nationalities, race, age and creed. Yet at National Religious Broadcasters Christian Radio events there are entire workshops that target the 30 something woman with two kids. They even named this woman Debbie! While understanding who our audience is it seems appropriate, the question becomes “are we being too narrow-minded?” Although we may be savvy enough to put together a focus group to determine who wants to buy our product, the tell-tale, proof of the pudding, of our effectiveness is what our audience needs. This comes down to who will believe the message to of the one thing for all generations.
All the rich of the earth will feast and worship, all who go down to the dust will kneel before him-those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn-for he has done it.”