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About that Super Bowl commercial for Jesus

A still from the 'He Gets Us' campaign
A still from the "He Gets Us" campaign | Screenshot/He Gets Us Campaign

The Super Bowl might be the highest holy day of the secular American calendar, and like Christianity with Christmas, it struggles with the commercialization of the real meaning behind the season. In other words, for many Americans, it’s more about watching the commercials than the game. And among the star-studded food, drink and insurance commercials this year, there were two ads about Jesus.

If you’re a pastor or church leader, you may be curious, inspired, or even upset at what you saw. But before you spike the ball on your feelings, know that as these ads invite people to take a fresh look at Jesus, they will only have maximum impact with the full engagement of the Christian community.

The commercials are part of the He Gets Us movement. On billboards, in print, on social media and even in television commercials, the goal is to reintroduce people to the Jesus of the Bible and his confounding love and to call up Christians to reflect that love.

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Many followers of Jesus are not aware of how skeptical some people are of Christianity. They are spiritually open but closed off to the faith because of how they’ve been treated by the Church or seen others treated by the Church.

However, in the research behind this campaign, we found more than 50% of people are open to learning about Jesus.

So, the theme of He Gets Us builds around Jesus’ love, compassion and radical forgiveness. We look at different aspects of Jesus’ life and what He taught in the Bible, and then each ad explores a facet of how Jesus relates to and understands the human experience. Then by looking at the calendar and what’s happening in the different seasons of our culture, we look for a way to present Jesus to the culture in a new and fresh way that people don’t expect.

Because He Gets Us explores a different way to introduce Jesus to the culture, different ads may strike a different chord with different people. So, it’s important to look at each one through the lens of “who is this ad for?”

For example, one ad called “The Birth” tells the story of a teen mom who is terrified when she learns she is pregnant. While the images are from today, the twist comes at the end with the tagline, “Jesus was born to a teen mom.” If that is part of your story or the story of someone you love, that ad might strike you quite differently. In other words, there’s an audience member who sees the ads and says, “That’s me, and Jesus can accept me. I can approach Jesus no matter who I am or what I’ve done.”

Certain messages will resonate with you more than others. You can choose the conversations to engage in. And if you haven’t seen your favorite part about Jesus yet, that doesn’t mean we don’t believe it or aren’t already working on it.

If you’re a pastor or church leader, regardless off your opinion of the campaign, the fact is they are out there. People in your congregations, coworkers, neighbors and people you run into in public will have seen these ads, and many will have questions about Jesus. Are we ready for the moment to have that conversation?

He Gets Us is an invitation to start a journey of exploring Jesus. We’re all wired for connection and relationship; as someone explores Jesus, they will naturally want to get into community — and they’ll likely seek the people in their lives who are followers of Jesus. For many, He Gets Us may be setting up more 1 Peter 3:15 moments than ever before: “Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 

A vital part of this effort involves the local church. With so many creative ways to share Jesus with our culture, He Gets Us is one contribution to the work of the “big C” Church, with the hope that people see in their local church what they see in the ads.

Thousands of churches have partnered with the movement, and Gloo (the company I work with) helps bridge the connection between He Gets Us and the local church. Through resources, tools, and even connecting people who respond to the ads with a local church, we offer a lot of options for churches to join in.

These Super Bowl ads will spark conversations about Jesus, prompting a range of viewpoints and emotions. As a pastor or leader, you can say and do more with the message of He Gets Us in your local context than can be done with a 60-second commercial. So how can you use He Gets Us to share the love of Jesus for all of us?

Brad Hill has been deeply involved in solving technology challenges for the Church for over 20 years, and he serves on the executive team at Gloo. Gloo is the leading creator of innovative technology that helps faith leaders do connected ministry and is a partner of He Gets Us.

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