Most people know about Jesus. Many even say His teachings were good. But most young people in today’s culture don’t see how Jesus applies to their everyday life. To them, Jesus is not relatable. He just doesn’t “get” them.
The He Gets Us movement is trying to reach those people. How? They’ve partnered with thousands of churches and spent millions of dollars in research and creative ads—all to introduce people to the true, authentic Jesus Christ.
Family Radio’s Jenny Burkhiser sat down for a special interview with Brad Hill to talk about He Gets Us and the two Super Bowl commercials they are airing. That’s right! Millions of people will see commercials about Jesus during the Super Bowl. Click below to hear this exclusive interview!
If you’d like to find out more about the He Gets Us movement visit hegetsus.com. And if you want to see how your church can be partner with them to introduce more people to Jesus, visit hegetsuspartners.com.
14 responses to “Jesus and the Super Bowl?”
This is a very controversial movement. I am dismayed Family Radio seems to be promoting it.
Hi Marry, It’s not really controversial. They just want non-believers to think about Jesus in ways they hadn’t thought of him before. If you follow their website they lead you to Bible studies. They just want people to read the Bible and find out who Jesus is. And they have ways to connect to local churches. And they don’t promote any one specific type of church. Both those things sound like great first steps to try to get non-believers to take!
Being a christian, I kind of have a couple problems with this. You keep saying, “Who Jesus was” “Jesus cared” Why do you refer to Him in the past tense? I believe Jesus IS. The magnatude of His existence and presence must be conveyed. HE IS GOD. I hope that you all have prayerfully considered “rebranding” Him At the same time, if your campaign is approved by the LORD, may it prosper to HIS Glory!
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7 Problems with the He Gets Us Campaign
By Natasha Crain / October 27, 2022
In case you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a $100 million advertising campaign that launched this year across the United States and is aimed at helping rescue Jesus’s reputation from the “damage” done by His followers. It features a website, billboards in major cities, and ads that have been viewed 300 million times. “He Gets Us,” as the campaign is known, is funded by anonymous donors. If you haven’t seen the ads yet, you likely will soon.
Many Christians immediately have a problem with the idea that Jesus would in some way be “marketed.” As a former marketing executive and adjunct market research professor, I don’t necessarily think such a marketing campaign is inherently problematic. Marketing is simply the discipline of effectively getting a given message to a given audience. If your church has a website, you’re “marketing.” If you have a board in front of your church that announces the weekly sermon subject, you’re “marketing.” If you pass out tracts about Jesus, you’re “marketing.”
In other words, if donors are paying to tell the world about Jesus on a grand scale so that more people may come to a saving knowledge of Him, praise God.
But the message shared better be an accurate message about Jesus, lest you’re actually leading people away from Him in some way.
And therein lies the problem with He Gets Us. The Jesus of this campaign is nothing more than an inspiring human who relates to our problems and cares a whole lot about a culturally palatable version of social justice.
Since many people will be discussing the campaign in coming months, I want to highlight seven significant problems to watch out for and to share with friends who may be misled by what they see.
1. The fact that Jesus “gets us,” stripped from the context of His identity, is meaningless.
The name of the campaign alone should raise at least a preliminary red flag for Christians. Generally speaking, when people or churches focus on the humanity of Jesus—an emphasis on the idea that “He was just like us!”—it’s to the exclusion of His divinity. But Jesus matters not primarily because He understands what it’s like to be human, but because of who He is. In other words, it’s only His identity as God Himself that makes the fact that He “gets us” even relevant.
If Jesus wasn’t God, it doesn’t matter that He understands what it’s like to be human. Literally every other human has experienced humanity as well! Who cares that this Jesus fellow “gets” humanity like everyone else? But if Jesus was God, the incarnation becomes an amazing truth, because the God of the universe also experienced the nature of humanity.
Of course, if the campaign simply had a title which lacked clarity but its execution was something very different, there wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Read on.
2. Jesus is presented as an example, not a Savior.
There’s nothing I’ve seen or read in the campaign that presents Jesus as God Himself or a Savior for humanity. The questions asked and answered on the site include things like: Was Jesus ever lonely? Was Jesus ever stressed? Did Jesus have fun? Did Jesus face criticism?
But again, if Jesus was nothing more than a human, why are we even asking these questions? We could just as well be asking, Was George Washington ever lonely? Was George Washington ever stressed? Did George Washington have fun? Did George Washington face criticism?
The campaign wants you to care about Jesus because He’s a great moral example. They say, for instance, “No matter what we think of Christianity, most people can agree on one thing. During his lifetime, Jesus set a pretty good example of peace and love.”
But if that’s all Jesus is—a good example—don’t spend millions on a campaign to tell people about Him. We can find good human examples all over the place. Jesus is a good example—the ultimate example—but most importantly, He’s the Son of God. That’s why His example matters.
3. The campaign reinforces the problematic idea that Jesus’s followers have Jesus all wrong.
Jon Lee, one of the chief architects of the campaign, says the team wanted to start a movement of people who want to tell a better story about Jesus and act like him. Lee states, “Our goal is to give voice to the pent-up energy of like-minded Jesus followers, those who are in the pews and the ones that aren’t, who are ready to reclaim the name of Jesus from those who abuse it to judge, harm and divide people.”
For 2,000 years, people have done terrible things in the name of Christ—things that Jesus Himself would never have approved of. There’s no question in that sense that people have “abused” the name of Jesus for their own evil purposes.
But in today’s culture, there’s a popular notion that Jesus was the embodiment of love and all things warm and fuzzy, whereas His followers who talk about judgment, sin, objective morality, the authority of Scripture, and so on, are hopelessly at odds with what He taught. The He Gets Us campaign plays straight into that misconceived dichotomy.
Christians who adhere to clear biblical teachings on hot topics like the sanctity of life, gender identity, and sexuality, for example, are consistently accused of “harming” others by even holding those beliefs. Those who speak the truth about what God has already judged to be right and wrong are accused of being “judgmental” themselves. Those who understand Jesus to be the Son of God—the embodiment of truth, not warm fuzzies—are accused of being divisive when rightly seeking to divide truth from error as the Bible teaches (1 John 4:6).
So the question is, when Lee says that he wants to rescue the name of Jesus from those who “abuse it to judge, harm and divide people,” does he mean that he wants to give people a more biblical understanding of Jesus, or does he want to rescue an unbiblical, culturally palatable version of Jesus from followers who proclaim truth that people don’t want to hear?
I think the answer is clear from my next point.
4. The campaign reinforces what culture wants to believe about Jesus while leaving out what culture doesn’t want to believe.
Whereas the campaign is seeking to give people a fresh picture of Jesus, all it really does is reinforce the feel-good image culture already has. A representative web page, for example, talks about how Jesus “invited everyone to sit at his table.” The text talks about how “inclusive” Jesus was, how the “religious do-gooders began to whisper behind his back,” and how “the name of Jesus has been used to harm and divide, but if you look at how he lived, you see how backward that really is. Jesus was not exclusive. He was radically inclusive.”
Of course Jesus welcomed everyone around His table. And surely people need to hear that. But He welcomed everyone because everyone needs to hear His message about people’s need for repentance and salvation! Meanwhile, He Gets Us presents Jesus’s actions as though they merely represented an example of how to get along well with others: “Strangers eating together and becoming friends. What a simple concept, and yet, we’re pretty sure it would turn our own modern world upside down the same way Jesus turned his around 2,000 years ago.”
Of course, if you’re nothing more than a human (see point 1), there’s not much more to take from Jesus’s actions than a social example of playing well with others.
5. The campaign characterizes the so-called culture war in terms of secular social justice rather than underlying worldview differences.
On a page titled, “Jesus was fed up with politics, too,” it says, “Jesus lived in the middle of a culture war…And though the political systems were different (not exactly a representative democracy), the greed, hypocrisy, and oppression different groups used to get their way were very similar.” The page, like many others on the site, has hashtags “#Activist#Justice#RealLife.”
For those familiar with Critical Theory and how it roots secular social justice ideas, this a pretty clear statement of the mindset from which He Gets Us is coming.
If you’re not familiar with how secular social justice ideas and manifestations differ from those of biblical justice, please see chapter 10 in my book, Faithfully Different: Regaining Biblical Clarity in a Secular Culture; I don’t have the space here to fully reiterate how opposed they are. But the bottom line is that secular social justice is rooted in the idea that the world should be viewed through the lens of placing people in “oppressor” and “oppressed” groups based on social power dynamics. The problems we have in society, according to this view, are that societal structures have produced norms that oppress certain groups, and those groups must be liberated. For example, in such a framework, those who feel oppressed by the gender binary need to be freed from society’s norms of “male and female.” Women whose access to abortion is limited need to be freed from constraints on “reproductive justice.”
The fact that He Gets Us believes culture wars are about the “oppression” different groups use to get their way presupposes a (secular) Critical Theory understanding of the world. In reality, it’s the opposing worldviews in culture that lead to such fundamental disagreement. As I explain throughout Faithfully Different, cultural “wars” over things like the sanctity of life and sexuality are ultimately rooted in disagreements between those who believe in the moral authority of the individual (the secular view) and those who believe in the moral authority of God and His Word (the biblical view).
6. The campaign’s stated goal is about inspiration, not a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The president of the marketing agency behind He Gets Us has explicitly said, “Ultimately, the goal is inspiration, not recruitment or conversion.”
Now, as someone with a professional marketing background myself, I very much understand the fact that not every campaign has the goal of getting someone to “purchase” (or, in this case, “convert”). Marketers know that people generally go through preliminary phases of awareness, then interest, and then desire before committing to action. So if this campaign were only working at generating more and deeper awareness of or interest in a biblically faithful Jesus, that would be no problem. But if your goal is inspiration, you’re going to generate an awareness of and interest in a Jesus completely detached from the one a person should be giving their life to.
If it’s not immediately clear why, you can see the outcome of such a problematic goal on the page that asks, “Is this a campaign to get me to go to church?” Their answer is, “No. He Gets Us simply invites all to consider the story of a man who created a radical love movement that continues to impact the world thousands of years later. Many churches focus on Jesus’ experiences, but you don’t have to go to church or even believe in Christianity to find value in them. Whether you consider yourself a Christian, a believer in another faith, a spiritual explorer, or not religious or spiritual in any way, we invite you to hear about Jesus and be inspired by his example.”
Jesus is God of the universe and the exclusive path to salvation (John 14:6). He’s not just a nice guy relevant for “inspiring” people regardless of whatever errant worldview they happen to hold.
Some people reading this may try to be charitable in suggesting that if the campaign were more explicitly about Jesus’s divinity and the need for salvation up front, not as many would get interested in learning more. In other words, maybe the campaign funnels people to places that can deepen and clarify their understanding of Jesus. If that were the case, it would be a horrible, misleading approach. Every marketer knows that the goal is to generate accurate awareness. He Gets Us presents not just an incomplete Jesus, but the wrong one.
Even so, let’s look at where the campaign eventually takes people.
7. The next steps offered by He Gets Us could lead someone far away from truth rather than toward it.
When people become interested in learning more about Jesus, they’re directed to a “Connect” page.
Hundreds of churches have signed up to respond to people who fill out that connect form. Clearly, an important question is where those people are directed. However, there is no theological criteria or statement of faith that churches must adhere to in order to take part. The president of the marketing agency says, “We hope that all churches that are aligned with the He Gets Us campaign will participate…This includes multiple denominational and nondenominational church affiliations, Catholic and Protestant, churches of various sizes, ethnicities, languages, and geography.”
As I explain in Faithfully Different (and discuss with Dr. George Barna in my recent podcast), 65% of Americans identify as Christian while only about 6% have a worldview consistent with what the Bible teaches. Dr. Barna’s research has also shown that a dismal percent of pastors have a biblical worldview. If you have no theological criteria for where you’re sending people, you’re actually more likely than not—based on statistics—to be sending them to a church whose teachings don’t line up with those of the Bible.
In other words, you’re sending unsuspecting truth seekers to places where they won’t hear truth.
Yes, Jesus was fully human, but He was also fully God. When you remove half the picture of His identity (as this campaign does), you give people the understanding they want but not the fuller understanding they need. Because of this, He Gets Us has the potential to actually harm the public understanding of Jesus. People need to know that Jesus is our Savior, not a compassionate buddy.
Copyright © 2023 Natasha Crain. All rights reserved. Natashacrain.com
Hey Marry, just a heads up it’s not acceptable to post a whole article like that without the authors written permission. Next time, please just post a link to it. I don’t have time to go with every point. But overall these ads are not not trying to be the be-all-end-all of getting to know Jesus. They are an introduction. They are trying to get people who have a lot of misconceptions about Jesus to think about Him in a new way and be inspired to learn more. And they have those people learn more by doing a reading plan on a Bible app and connect to Churches.
There are plenty of other ministries and Churches that get deep into theology and explain the details of Christianity. The He Gets Us campaign is trying to do something they aren’t and reach people they aren’t. And they are doing that by trying to to get them to reconsider their misconceptions about Jesus. Are they perfect? Absolutely not. No ministry, church, denomination or Christian is.
As usual, I’m grateful to Jenny & Family Radio for showcasing an interesting variety of ministries & music so we can “think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). Every Christ-centered ministry I support has wheat & tares, sheep & goats (Matthew 13:24-30, 25:31-46). Even Jesus tolerated Judas Iscariot in His finance department (John 12:6). On this particular topic, the most poignant remark I’ve seen was by the humorous satire-site, The Babylon Bee: “…the PR team for Satan reminded everyone that Satan ‘gets them’ too.” https://babylonbee.com/news/god-hopeful-the-millions-spent-on-he-gets-us-super-bowl-ad-will-finally-give-him-some-exposure
At first, when I saw the commercials, I was critical and turned off. However after hearing the interview, I can see that certain people will not be reached unless a new approach is used. If God is for us, who can be against us? This is a different way of sharing the gospel, my prayer is that people will know Jesus as Saviour in any way God sees fit.
Verry disappointed that Family Radio would take part in this HE GETs US movement. It leaves out Christ’s divinity and our sinfullness. Beware of this!
I shared this with my 12 year old daughter. I just wanted to share her thoughts. She said, “it’s like with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They separate him from being a minister and civil rights leader. Even though his civil rights movement was connected to his faith. Separating Jesus the Son of God as a social justice leader.”
Thank you, Family Radio, for exposing us (your listeners) to a ministry that (however imperfectly) is promoting the name of Jesus — the person, the divinity, what he “was, and “is.”
As a Christian, Of course I agree with the “dissertation” and comments of the “dismayed”! But we (my husband and I) watched the Super Bowl, like we have every year for the last ten years, with our very good friends who are Jewish. For the first time in ten years, I was not the one to bring up the name of “Jesus.” For once, someone else bought Jesus into the conversation with my Jewish friends. My husband is not a Christian either. There is a billboard on Bruckner Boulevard (the Bronx) that simply says “JESUS” and offers a “1-800″ number to call. We pass it every day on our way to work and that billboard has triggered conversations about Jesus that I believe glorified God. ” . . . I came not to call the righteous, but the sinners” (Matthew 9:13). Praise God and I pray that God is in the midst of “hegetsus.com.”
I totally agree with the article. The misrepresentation of Jesus Christ is not only harmful, but completely misleading. God does NOT need this kind of misguided assistance to lure people to the Truth…The Holy Spirit does this flawlessly..
After seeing the commercials, hearing Jenny’s program and now reading through the comments here, many of which I agree with, I’d like to offer some of my own thoughts. While I think it’s good and important to remember Jesus IS alive, it takes nothing away from that fact to refer to His very real earthly ministry in the past. To use past-tense phrases such as Jesus “walked” on water or “fed” the multitudes doesn’t mean He’s no longer alive any more than if I said my friend, Larry, went to New York last week, and someone taking that to mean he’s no longer living.
I especially liked some of the points in the article Mary copied by Natasha Crain, though I think some of the points made are actually self-refuting. Crain says she’s a “former marketing executive,” and gives among other illustrations of marketing when a church has a sign with the name of the weekly sermon. But at the same time, she says “the message shared better be an accurate message about Jesus.” I think the message “He (Jesus) gets us” is every bit as accurate as a church sign with the simple message, “Love thy neighbor,” along with a list of service times. “He gets us” isn’t—and can’t be—an entire gospel presentation any more than a simple three-word sign outside the church can be. It can’t be. And it needn’t be. You’re only trying to start a conversation with the hopes of inviting people to open their hearts to hearing the gospel.
I’m reminded of seeing Billy Graham being interviewed one time where he was asked what goes through his mind as he sees people coming out of the stands to come forward and make a commitment to Christ. His answer surprised me. He said he knows most of those will not be genuine conversions. He said it was like the parable of the sower with the seed falling on various types of soil. He said he knows many will fall away, but he continues to call people to Christ for the sake of those who really will come to true faith.
It sounds to me from the granted relatively little I know about this campaign, that there are very committed Bible-believing Christians behind it. Let’s pray that it’s successful. When Jesus was feeding the people, multitudes came out to hear Him, but when He started talking about denying yourself and taking up your cross, the multitudes went away. But if out of those multitudes some became true followers and disciples, let’s give thanks to the Lord. And if one person or a thousand or a million or 10 million or more pick up Bibles and find the Lord because of this campaign, let’s give thanks to the Lord. In fact, why not pray for that? And pray also for those behind the campaign, that they might continually, prayerfully, seek the Lord and His guidance that this endeavor might be found faithful and fruitful.
A final thought, when Joseph was forgiving his brothers, he told them that what they meant for evil, God used for good. They intended evil, yet God turned it for good. Absent of evidence to the contrary, let’s give those behind the campaign the benefit of any doubts and assume they really are intending this for good. If God can use evil for good, how much more can He use that which is INTENDED for good?
Let’s strive to be all things to all people as much as is possible, while remaining faithful, in order that some might be saved.
Very well said, David! Thank you!
Great conversations, we talked yet we must understand we are a imperfect people delivering a perfect truth my thoughts are not your thought
Isaiah 55:8-9 and Philippians 1:8 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.