Relevant. Credible. Comprehensible. Persuasive.

These are the four tests my work for you must pass. They are independent parameters, yet have huge impact on one another.

I insist that to make for good advertising, copy must be: Relevant. Credible. Comprehensible. And Persuasive. Let me explain what I mean by these four properties and in what ways they are interrelated:

If you happen to be religiously inclined, the message of the Scripture should be relevant to you. It doesn’t matter what your actual faith is – you want to elect whether you embrace or reject the message. I am not religious; to me the entire question doesn’t arise. Relevance is a target group thing.

Relevant as it may be, however, most modern people find the concept of the virgin birth of Jesus a trifle hard to believe. Credibility is a matter of commonly accepted plausibility. It could thus almost be called an objective parameter.

The virgin birth is by no means hard to understand, though. Pregnant without intercourse: Nothing fancy about the idea. I just don’t believe it. But take, on the other hand, a phenomenon such as quantum mechanics: few educated people today deny it exists. Yet virtually nobody can follow the logic. Comprehensibility is a matter of traceability.

On the surface, credibility and comprehensibility are totally independent qualities. Still, they can have huge impact on each other. Take, for instance, the Book of Revelation. It is so incomprehensible that I can’t even determine what I‘m supposed to believe. In contrast, understanding Newton’s laws has helped a lot of people to shed the – very plausible – belief in the Earth’s being the centre of the universe.

Both also depend on relevance in that they require the willingness to engage at all: people will not consider things they find irrelevant in the first place.

Last but not least, the numbers of people going to church crumble worldwide. In that, the Scripture is little persuasive, no matter how impressive any cathedral may be. Although persuasiveness is basically a matter of presentation, presentation usually doesn’t suffice if the other three parameters are ignored.

My little analogy shows that my own standards may be a little over-diligent – although the Scripture fails in three out of four criteria, the idea of Christianity is still going strong after 2,000 years. But then, I’m not Jesus.