Jesus and Hula-hoops: lessons from Hudsucker

“It’s for everyone!”

However obvious it is to some of us that everyone needs the Bible it seems like it doesn’t always catch on. There are a few billion people who already have it in multiple version in their own language and yet who aren’t reading it or listening to the great new audio versions and gospel movies. And so lots of people come forward with great new solutions for encouraging engagement. Some do indeed make a huge difference.

Imagine trying to market the hula hoop to a culture that’s never seen one. Show the design drawings, impress the investors. This brief clip from 1994 movie, the Hudsucker Proxy might help you think how the meeting might go.

Given the questions raised you might wonder why Hudsucker Industries would be so keen to invest (you’ll have to watch the movie), but this next clip shows that a great idea doesn’t always catch on at first.


Fictional accounts aside the history of the hula hoop is quite interesting but not the main focus of this post.

I do believe that we need to apply some business ideas to the production and promotion of ‘products’ that will help people draw closer to God but we also need to be careful not to let business rule. There are good ideas and bad ideas to be evaluated to the best of our abilities. We need to understand our message and the people we wish to reach and to have some ideas about what business principles and what kingdom principles to apply.

This post doesn’t promise 20 strategies to promote you Bible blog or 15 keys to successful scripture engagement. I simply want to say three things.

  • A great idea doesn’t guarantee success
  • A poorly executed plan doesn’t guarantee failure
  • Plan well, pray hard, trust God


If you are still reading here’s a couple more thoughts on Huducker and a bit more on Hudsucker - you know, for kidshooping for Jesus.

How much time can you invest? How much money can you afford to lose?

As a movie the Hudsucker Proxy is now 22 years old though the idea for the script first emerged in 1981. Good ideas sometimes have to wait for the right timing. Eventually the film makers and their backers thought the Hudsucker proxy was worth investing in. There was lots of work and lots of planning and as with all movies it cost a lot. As with many, it didn’t make as much as hoped. (in fact it was a box office flop).

The big movie companies put a lot of thought into their investments but they do take chances and some pay off. The majority of churches and mission agencies work on smaller budgets than Hollywood but the stakes are high. At times we should risk losing our money, our buildings, and our reputation because we are not working for the sake of more, money, bigger buildings and a better reputation.

We follow the God who gave up everything to reach the world he loved.

Our ‘fate’ is not in our own hands

In the second movie clip failure turns to success as on boy plays with a discarded hoop. At the end of the movie the hero’s life hangs as two mystical figures battle it out in a good vs evil battle in the working of a giant clock. (it almost makes sense in the context).

In most of the posts on this site I’d like to argue for good planning and thought through strategies. The passage that says “God uses the foolish things of this world” (1 Cor 1:18-31) isn’t a call to be foolish. It is a call to look to God rather than our to own wisdom.


Want to know more about the history of hula hoops and hooping for Jesus?

According to information cited on Wikipedia the modern hula hoop was invented in 1958 by Arthur K. “Spud” Melin and Richard Knerr and at the height of the 50’s craze in the USA one manufacturer was producing 50,000 hoops per day.

There was apparently an earlier “craze” of using wooden and metal hoops in 14th-century England and there is also a long history of Native American hoop dancing as medium of telling traditional stories.

Hooping for Jesus?

As hoops can be used in storytelling I wondered if anyone was using them to tell people about God. I googled and found who’s stated mission is to “Spread the joy of hooping and the love of God all over the world, one hoop at a time, one life at a time.”

I know nothing more about the mission than what I’ve read on their website and I’m not personally feeling the call to hula hoop ministry but I love the quote,

“As our Joy Spreaders travel the world, there are times we will not be able to speak the same language as our new friends in other countries. What we can do, though, is share with them the international language of silliness! Few things transcend language barriers like laughter, play, fun and love.”





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