The Revival Bump: Is Marketing the Holy Spirit Sacrilege or Savvy?

The Revival Bump: Is Marketing the Holy Spirit Sacrilege or Savvy? September 21, 2023

Ask your pastor’s initial thoughts about “marketing the Holy Spirit” and watch what happens.

You may see visions of thought bubbles emptying overhead, and that idea of a light bulb could appear on a dimmer switch. Feelings may range from utter confusion to undeniable angst. The phrase sounds like it should be bellowed at some cult camp meeting.

This subject is complex, like using Revival for revenue. Marketing the Holy Spirit can go both ways. Promoting can be good to show what God is doing and encourage others to come to behold His majesty for themselves.

There are not only churches leveraging the Holy Spirit to excite people about coming to Christ, but evangelical universities. Businesses use whatever they possess to attract investors and recruit candidates. Entrepreneurs broadcast their successes of the past to create the sales of the future.

Is it fair to think the Church or any Bible-believing college should be any different? Which way do you think that “marketing the Holy Spirit” barroom door should swing?

This is another subject that hits close to home.

Can the Holy Spirit be Marketable?

Asbury University has been effectively marketing the Holy Spirit
On February 10, 2023, Asbury University’s Hughes Auditorium was full of people and the Holy Spirit in Wilmore, KY (Credit: Sarah Thomas Baldwin via Facebook)

Remember this? 

That’s the remotely located Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. The two-week-long outpouring of the Holy Spirit attracted people from around the world. It was 24 hours a day, and the awareness caused that campus to burst at the seams.

That’s a student body of 1,700, a town population of 6,000, and it’s said more than 50,000 to 70,000 people showed up to get a blessing. State police redirected traffic and closed off the town because of the visitors.

Traffic was at a standstill during the Asbury Outpouring
Credit: @GregJGordon via Twitter/X

Do you think those pictures and videos aren’t sent in some crafty email marketing campaign? Absolutely! As a result, Asbury University’s enrollment spiked by 20%, and thank the Lord for it. Do you believe God has a problem with promoting what He did at the little school? Absolutely not!

Yes, the staff at Asbury has been “marketing the Holy Spirit,” and people have been saved as a result. Some even took an interest in Christian education. Every social media platform, every country’s newscast, and every blog in the world discussed great awakening once.

What business or entrepreneur wouldn’t empty their 401K for that marketing? Regardless of foundation–secular or Christian, company or church–not a single one.

Is Marketing the Holy Spirit Savvy?

The first church knew about marketing the holy spirit.
Source: Fellowship of the Rockies in Pueblo, CO

According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, there are more than 200 Christian denominations across the U.S. and a staggering 45,000 worldwide. Most of them have a clue about the Holy Spirit. Fruit or not, gifts or not, flow or not–Church is not a dwelling place for the presence of God without it.

That noted, when God shows up, people get interested. It’s been like that since the Holy Spirit began showing up in service.

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting…

And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.

Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.

Acts 2:1-2, 5-6, 9-11 (NJKV)

This isn’t like the Medes and Parthians all crammed into a few SUVs and drove 45 miles for the latest revival meeting downtown. Information about the newest evangelist in town wasn’t just a click away. These are people who heard the news from a person who heard it from a person who heard it from someone who went. 

That motivated them to pack up, get humpback on a camel and take a two-week trip to where this Holy Ghost hubbub was located. Today, they call that kind of outreach “word-of-mouth marketing.”

Even King David wrote, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord. Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the people” (Psalm 105:1 NKJV).

How did the Churches of Ephesus, Corinth, Phillipi, and Galatia grow? They didn’t have a fantastic TikTok outreach or a catchy slogan pasted on a billboard in uptown Nazareth. People were inspired by what they experienced and told others about God’s deeds!

Is Marketing the Holy Spirit Sacrilege?

The campaign was world-changing
Even Jesus got some Super Bowl LVII airtime. (Source:

That depends on your perception and experience.

There have been millions of Christians whom a wolf has burned in sheep’s clothing standing dead center in the pulpit. Those coifed curators of the Gospel used slick marketing as bait to lead lambs to the slaughter. Those misguided souls hurt Church members were hurt and they damaged staff members. And money was usually the root of all that evil.

Does that mean churches and marketing should never mix? If that were true, what would happen if another day (not necessarily at Pentecost) had fully come? If a revival occurs in a church and no one is there to see it, did it happen?

Well, it did, but it would have much more impact for Christ if people were there to see it. 

When you approach the Great Commission like some go-to-market plan, it gives believers the creeps. That note turns off more non-Christians than you can imagine. Coming to know Jesus Christ as a personal Savior is about a relationship, not a race to the best sale in town.

Most people in any church understand that premise.

We are not discussing the many unscrupulous hacks who have taken a pulpit and the many other malevolent souls who have led thousands away from one. That’s not this post–not all pastors and evangelists use Jesus as a sales tactic. Not even most of them. 

If you want to point that Pentecostal finger, look at their heart first. Please, because it’s just not fair. James 1:8 (KJV) says, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

Don’t think for a minute the Church is wrong for using the tactics of the world. If you pay attention to those scriptures above, maybe the world got the idea from the Church in the first place.

About Shawn Paul Wood
For more than 20 years, Shawn Paul Wood has been an award-winning storyteller for global marketing and advertising agencies and some of the most notable names in their respective industries. Today, Shawn runs Woodworks Communications, an agency about the written word based on The Word. You can read more about the author here.

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