Is the Bible Misunderstood?
Officially, Project Magellan is a coalition-driven initiative to positively change perception and activate new exploration of the Bible. What does that really mean, right? It’s a good question, so we made a film about it that’s a good bit more fun than reading this paragraph. But if you must, here’s the lowdown in a nutshell: People increasingly dismiss the Bible as a potential source for making things in their life better because of misperception, complexity, lack of appeal, and mistrust. A four-part problem that requires an innovative four-part solution. This project, and this coalition, have been formed to figure out exactly that - and we’ve got some really good stuff going.
Check out the film to get the full picture and explore the rest of this site to learn how you can join us.
We’ve done a lot of research over the last 6 years, and the results are eye-opening. Here’s a confirmed misperception to consider: People widely believe that if they read the Bible, they will feel bad about themselves or the people they love. Here’s a few more: They think the Bible is anti-women, anti-gay, supports racial oppression, contradicts itself and science, and is just too complex to understand.
These misperceptions are fueled by major cultural, historical, and religious barriers that simply make the Bible seem way too intimidating for people to overcome. Add to it that the vast majority of Bible resources online assume the reader already believes and is there to “study,” and there’s no doubt it’s easier to turn to Google than the Bible when faced with solving life’s problems.
The truly unfortunate part is that all of these factors add up to a perception that keeps more and more people from even considering what the Bible narrative has to offer them. It’s certainly true that the Bible can be a difficult book to grasp, but we can’t allow misperception to keep curious people from trying. If we can positively change perception, we will serve a restless America with a valuable option to make their lives meaningfully better.
Perhaps the biggest barrier to people’s consideration of the Bible is… well, people. Ironic, eh?
Mistrust of people who promote the Christian faith and present an air of perfection, while being clearly - and sometimes spectacularly - imperfect are the single biggest barrier to Bible consideration. Even more ironic is that the fact that our very imperfection is what makes the Bible so unique and appealing–it is a story for imperfect people, about imperfect people, who are loved and saved by a perfect God.
How attractive would it be if more people demonstrated exactly that in our relationships, our creations, our words, and our actions? That’s what this coalition–this partnership of imperfect people–is being formed to encourage and promote.
PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING BETTER
Research shows that 150M curious Americans believe things can be better. But too few are turning to the Bible as a valuable source for affecting change in their lives and communities. Barriers including misperception, complexity, and mistrust keep millions from even knowing where to begin. So we’re building a website just for them.
Everyone is searching for a story that makes sense of their life.
We believe the Bible holds that story–offering an open invitation to a fuller life, that all people deserve to consider without the barriers of misperception, complexity, unappealing experiences, and mistrust. We believe things can be better and that the Bible narrative can contribute to that.
Part of our work is evaluating how we got to this point. The cultural shifts that have led us down this road, specific instances where these four problems became apparent, and how we as Christians have failed to approach the rest of the world with humility and honesty. This is the difficult part: being honest with ourselves about how we have contributed to these four problems.
But we must also look forward and imagine the impact it would have on our culture if 100 million people engaged with the Bible, if we could somehow overcome this four-part problem, and introduce people to the fuller life the Bible has to offer. Imagine what would happen if 100 million people in the United States dedicated themselves to concepts like forgiveness, reconciliation, love, peace, and kindness?
The Bible still has power to change our culture for the better. We should to help people rediscover it.
People don’t like ads. What will make this one any different?
That’s what it says at the top of every one of our agency creative briefs. It’s an important daily reminder to us, and it’s generally true. People don’t like ads, or more specifically they like to believe that they don’t work. Naturally, people want to believe they’re above the swaying power of advertising, but our experience is more nuanced than that. Ads that are in service of a genuine consumer want or need, and ads that are built around an insightful truth are extremely effective and often moving. Particularly when the creative approach to delivering the message is remarkable.
We exist for one reason: to endear brands to people. Endearing a brand to consumers requires creativity that works–and works consistently–at every point of contact. We believe a brand is a promise. Yeah, it’s a simple idea, but that’s the point. Our goal as an agency, and as a coalition member, is to advance an honest and insightful brand that surprises people, compels them to rethink their perceptions, and invites them to explore the promise of the Bible through a new lens.