When i was a kid Mt. Dew had a very different marketing strategy than they do today.  Back then the soft drink maker used a hillbilly theme.  There was a picture of a hillbilly aiming a gun at a fleeing man on the front.  On the neck of the bottle was the same hillbilly holding a jug with the cork popping off and putting a hole in his hat.  And on the back was the company's profound slogan "It'll tickle your innards" (now how's that for a catchy phrase!).  Although this motif had the beverage somewhat popular, the company wanted to do better.

  So they made some major changes in the appearance of their product.  The hillbilly was retired and their wonderful slogan scrapped.  The bottles simply had the name of the product boldly displayed.  The commercials now contained scenes of young people doing fun things at the lake or some other exciting place.  And of course they were having a great time while drinking Mt. Dew.

  The new plan worked.  Mt. Dew became more and more popular.  It is recognized today as one of the highest selling soft drinks in the world.  All because the company was willing to change the way they presented their creation.

  One important note: they did not change their product.  Mt. Dew was still Mt. Dew.  The same soft drink that was inside the hillbilly bottle was still in the new plain container.  The company never doubted their product--they knew they had a winner.  They just realized that to reach a new generation of consumers they needed to change the way they showed their product.

  I think the small church could learn something from Mt. Dew.  We have a product, so to speak, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We believe it is the best thing a person could ever have in their life.  We want as many people to have it as possible.  In the case of Mt. Dew, this desire was for the company's profits.  In the case of the church, it is for the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ.

  But some of us are still trying to package the eternal gospel in packaging that speaks to a past generation.  Nothing wrong with it, but it doesn't grab the attention of the age in which we live.  Let's be frank: if a manufacturer never changed the way they presented the product, they would probably not have success.  It is the companies that can keep their product the same but adapt how they present it that have the great profits.

  It could be that we need to look at some different ways to present the glorious, timeless message of Jesus Christ.  Now I'm not advocating watering down the message or changing it in any way.  Mt. Dew kept the soft drink in their bottles the same.  And the church only has one gospel.  It is the same message we have proclaimed for 2,000 years.

  But there is nothing wrong with trying to preach (yes I said preach) the good news of Jesus Christ in such a way as to reach 21st century people.  There really is nothing wrong with using some newer songs, changing when you take up the offering, doing announcements at a new time, etc.  By the way, on the music thing, it is interesting to note that many small church children's departments use modern music, but will claim that to do so in adult worship is wrong--just an observation.

  You must never change the gospel in any way.  But the presentation can vary.  I have preached on street corners and can assure you that you have to do things differently than in a Sunday morning worship service.  Perhaps we need to take a second look at our methodology as we try to reach this lost and dying world with the saving message of Jesus.