Knowing your target audience is a key factor to any advertising campaign. You can have the slickest commercials, the best product, and the prettiest endorsers, but if you don’t communicate to your target audience—the group you hope to influence—your message will get lost in the sea of voices. Too often, Christians oversell the Gospel and end up shutting people’s minds and hearts down for any future retellings of the “greatest story ever told.”
It is often pointed out that Jesus taught in parables, stories that related difficult spiritual truths with everyday physical events that connected with his listeners. We live in the physical world, we breathe in the physical world, and we struggle in the physical world. Most non-Christians don’t understand that our physical problems and troubles are a result of our spiritual alienation from our Creator. Jesus came to restore the spiritual rift brought about by the first Adam, effectively re-opening the door back into the garden. The physical degradation of our physical world began with a spiritual rebellion in the heart of our first parents.
Without this understanding, most non-Christians find fault with the “systems” of the world. Instead of looking to the obvious root of the problem—the sinfulness of man—they will often find fault with oppressive regimes around the world that keep people in subjection. Since man himself is not the problem, they reason, it must be the environment that keeps him oppressed. It’s not nature; it’s nurture. When Christians bring their message of the risen Savior who “takes away the sins of the world” to this system-oriented understanding of the world, it only serves to confuse the issue. Since, in the eyes of the non-Christian, the physical problems of the world have physical solutions, they will never see the need for a spiritual rebirth. Jesus may have claimed that His kingdom wasn’t of this world, but He did come INTO this world to tell us about it. He died a physical death for a spiritual problem.
Now what does all of this have to do with “target audience?” Obviously, our target audience for the gospel is the non-Christian. But our message is almost always aimed at a level where the non-Christian doesn’t live. While talking about sin and Jesus dying on the cross for that sin is true, it doesn’t have any connection to the everyday life of the unbeliever. They live and operate in a world of ideas and actions that are built on humanistic and materialistic assumptions. Our first job as Christian apologists is a search and destroy mission. We need to blow up and demolish the strongholds of the unbeliever’s worldview, before we can come in and repair the breach with the Christian worldview. Blow holes in the enemies’ fortress first, then you can come in and fill the holes with the gospel bricks.
McDonald’s tried for years to return to their dominance in the fast-food market during the late 90’s and early 2000. Their sales were lower every year and the assumption was that the healthier food craze was causing people to eat better and exclude Big Macs from their diets. McDonald’s countered with a new menu that included salads, yogurt, and fruit. But it wasn’t until the Dollar Menu, and specifically the Double Cheeseburger on that menu, was introduced that Mickey D’s saw a return to the top of the grease-slinging charts. They returned to their target audience. Instead of overselling unwanted items (salads and yogurt), they introduced new items to the menu that caused people to return for the same reason they originally visited the restaurant in the first place (burgers and fries). Non-Christians see the church and Christians in general as marketers of guilt-trips and finger-pointing; nobody wants this product. Let’s begin reselling what Jesus sold: intellectual combat and assumption demolition. The current market is overloaded with guilt-manipulators; it’s high time we raised a superior equipped team.
 Melanie Warner, “Salads or No, Cheap Burgers Revive McDonald’s,” New York Times, April 19, 2006. Online here.