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‘The Thorn’: A Case Study in Using the Arts To Spread the Gospel

Performers—and viewers—arrive to “The Thorn” at different faith points, but Bolin says they “always encounter Jesus there somehow.” That’s why he believes the arts are such a powerful force for missions and outreach. By participating in or watching “The Thorn,” people of all backgrounds engage with God’s Word, God’s plan, and God’s power.

Spreading the Word About ‘The Thorn’

From its beginnings at New Life, “The Thorn” targeted youth and young adults. Even today, the performances strongly resonate with college-age viewers. Another target demographic is middle-aged women, who tend to buy tickets for an entire family. 

With the new chapter of entering theatrical venues, the marketing strategy is shifting too. Instead of spreading news about “The Thorn” mainly to Christians, pastors, and churches, Bolin’s team is broadening its reach to the arts community. Advertising campaigns for 2023 focus on people who like dance, ballet, concerts, and performances such as Cirque du Soleil. Thanks to its production quality and its move to mainstream venues, “The Thorn” is expected to attract audiences who appreciate the arts, regardless of their spiritual background.

Social media also is playing a bigger role in advertising this year’s shows and movie. After sites such as Facebook and Google made it more difficult to target religious demographics, the decision to appeal to arts fans was cemented.

For spreading news about “The Thorn,” Christians can play a key role too, both in person and on social media. The production’s Facebook page encourages fans to film brief testimonials about the show on their phones. Those will be compiled into a video so as many people as possible can know about “The Thorn” and its impact. 

The Facebook post suggests that fans share how “The Thorn” was “transformational for you or someone you love”; for example, “I decided to follow Jesus,” “I left my fear at the cross,” “I finally found victory over an addiction.” 

Such conversations are key to everyday evangelism. And those conversations can be easier to start when the topic is arts and entertainment—something that appeals to a wide range of people.