With the recent He Gets US ads playing during the Super Bowl in 2023, there have been a lot of opinions given about the campaign. Sadly, it’s been more dividing than I think many would have thought a commercial about Jesus Christ being aired during the biggest event on national TV ever would have. You would think we would all, Christians at least, would applaud the fact our Lord and Savior’s Name is being broadcast to the world! Instead, reviews have been mixed.
It is these mixed reviews I want to tackle here…or at least share what I know of the campaign myself from being personally involved. You see, around the end of 2021, I got involved by responding to an advertisement (if I recall correctly) during the Carey Nieuwhof podcast I frequently listen to. The ad (Gloo) was something about “serving” folks outside your church by receiving messages from them. I thought, “that would be awesome!” I mean come on, as a pastor of a small online only church trying to figure out who and how we can serve folks outside the church, this should be perfect.
At the time, I knew nothing of the He Gets Us commercials. It may have just been a week or two in before I heard of it. Maybe one of my “explorers,” (that’s what they call those that send prayer requests/or ask for more info), had mentioned it in a response to my contacting them. I don’t’ know, but either way, I eventually learned there was more than just the He Gets Us campaign sending those people’s request out to people, pastors, like myself. It was a different campaign, I do not remember.
So that brings us to the “uproar” of some over He Gets Us advertising during the Super Bowl. They had two ads, one called, “Be Childlike,” and the other, “Love Your Enemies.” Both, in my opinion very good and the second was poignant for sure! From the titles alone, both are biblically based on Jesus’s Words about coming to Him as a child, and of course the commandment to love others. And the truth is, I’ve not seen many arguments about the ads themselves…content wise, just a few different “other” views on them.
Understand I want to keep this blog as short as possible so I don’t do a deep dive on all the “arguments” about the ads.
They aren’t Jesus Enough
Well that’s the way I’ll put those comments I’ve seen as. Basically it is the idea that the ads make Jesus “too” human, “too accepting.” These are those that would say the ads don’t “teach” Jesus enough…i.e. they don’t condemn others. They don’t speak of sin. They “whitewash” Jesus some might say, or “fluff” His teachings.
To this I simply say, you missed the point of the ads. (We’ll get to the point in the conclusion of this blog).
A Waste of Money
The cost of a 30 second Superbowl ad in 2023 was about $7M for a 30 second ad. So, quick math tells us, He Gets Us, (it’s founders and partners), may have paid around $21M for 90 seconds worth of TV time. That is in fact a “LOT” of money to everyone reading this blog I am sure. And, the thought of, “what good could have been done with that money?” is indeed a fair question. I’ve asked the same question about many organizations. And everything comes down to ROI in reality, (Return on Investment). For the goals of He Gets Us, apparently, the cost of getting the campaign before the eyes of over 100 million people was worth it.
Again, it is my belief that the problem is people don’t understand the goal(s) of the campaign, addressed in the conclusion.
I Don’t Like Where the Money Comes From
There are those that don’t like one of the biggest investors of the project, David Green, the CEO of Hobby Lobby. You may recall the past uproar over Hobby Lobby’s decision to not fund birth control for its employees, and as a Christian owned organization, the conservative stance of its leadership in moral and political issues. I remember the news about it, but I’m not looking into it here.
Green is of course not the only funding for this project as there are many “un-named” investors.
The ads are the product of Bill McKendry’s marketing organization, Hazen. He and his team are truly the masterminds behind the He Gets Us brand. I listened to him on a recent podcast, (forgive me I don’t recall, but he’s been on many), and he shared their early expectations and how blown away they were when they had the “reactions” of over 14 million people on the first ad within less than two weeks.
I believe this argument is more about the litmus test of what some would consider correct Christianity or not, liberal or conservative, and so on. This is a never ending debate really.
The Heart of He Gets Us
He Gets Us is NOT preaching Jesus, (i.e. theology), to people. It’s not about getting people saved, or condemning them. It is about bridging the gap between the Church (and our messed up history) and those people outside of her that are hurting, seeking help, and are “scared” of going to a physical church building. As Bill himself asserts, and I’m sure you can find more factual numbers if you desire, about most of the population, (especially in the west if not world wide), admires and respects the person, the human person, of Jesus. Seriously, half of the world’s religions speak highly of Him. So the campaign uses that idea, and Jesus’s “humanity” in the idea, that “He knows our struggles.” “He knows our pains.” “He experienced anxiety too.” So, “He gets us.”
The ads are presented with the goal of getting folks to go to the website and click around and explore. Now, when I first started with Gloo, the “explorers” would send a message to Gloo that was usually a prayer request or an “I need someone to talk to,” kind of message. The goal for the one receiving the messages was then to respond as soon as possible to the incoming request with basically a “Hi, I am Gerald, and I received your prayer request. I am happy to pray for you about this situation. If you would like to talk more about it with me, just respond to this text and we can chat.”
My Personal Experience
I was told when signing up that I’d probably receive about 10 requests per week. If I recall, I received about 15 that first week, and most every other week was ten or more. From what could see, the goal was to begin a conversation with these folks that could possibly lead to, eventually, a Gospel conversation. For many it might have been seeking opportunity to meet with the explorer physically. But I run an online only church so my goal was simply to serve them, and if/when the time allowed, let the know a little bit about our church. however, most of my conversations didn’t really get that far and I never pushed the issue.
My bigger problem was I got overwhelmed with so many requests and was stressing trying to get back to them. I also found it difficult to carry on the relationships with those I did actually talk to more than once because frankly, I’m busy and don’t like chatting that much.
Here’s a Few Requests I Received
-Lots of changes. Feel like nobody truly loves me. I think maybe I just expect to much from people.
-My family! My children have cause so much pain and heart break. I’m drowning in debt in part because of them and they just want more for themselves. It’s sad really. I’m losing sleep worrying about them and they just want to use me the rest of the way up for their own benefits. God help me get on my own feet and let me stop being hurt by them
-I think I have depression I’m only 10 and want to hurt myself I always put a fake smile on and can never sleep I cry almost everyday and have somewhat of anxiety I wanna die and feel like I have to reason to be alive and think that I’m better of dead.
-I have so many heath issues I’m about to give up.
-I’m not very good at talking to people like on the phone or in person cuz of my PTSD and anxiety and stuff but I have this situation where I’m living at and I need to get out of it the only problem is I have no car so I have no way of going nowhere and I’m just stuck here no food no heat no power…
-I just want to know if there’s anyone else like me out there. I have been depressed most of my life, it seemed as if nothing would get better and I failed at everything. I failed at having a good childhood at loving myself. I failed College and finding a job. I failed at being a good brother and son, The only thing I succeeded on was being born and that wasn’t even supposed to happen. I feel like nothing but a mistake and that that is all I will ever be and that I should just leave this world.He Gets Us Explorers
Yes, I even had a few young kids make contact through the system. For those I would respond back with some encouragement and say I’m praying for you. For the one above, her mother saw it on the daughter’s iPad and called me to discuss…of course wondering who the heck I was. And we had a really good conversation that I pray helped the daughter…and mother.
But as you see, these are just a few of the 100+ I received over a 3-4 month period. These are the kind of requests, and more importantly, PEOPLE, He Gets Us is resonating with. They are bridging a gap between folks being turned off to the Church with Jesus and His loyal servants that want to serve hurting folks. This is why I believe the money, is worth it. This is why it doesn’t matter to me who started it. This is why I hate to see the division promoted by those who feel the need to snub this ministry.
It’s not a waste of money when you’re potentially reaching millions of people in need and connecting them with folks that can help them. The ads aren’t about preaching a theology. They’re about making people think, “Maybe Jesus can help me.” “Maybe Jesus can get me.”
You may not feel the way I do about the ministry. You may take issue with it some way or another. But I do cry out to God that you would allow this ministry to continue to do what it is doing to reach people that sadly are not being reached by traditional means, (local churches). It’s doing a great service and connecting people that need connection.