Evangelism and Sales

A sentence from a secular source I read this morning, “I learned more about sales, marketing, and evangelism” through my first job.

Evangelism is often lumped into selling, whether by churchy-folk or not. We treat God as a commodity and we have to meet our quota, keep the Boss happy with our performance. I just need a bite. Just sign your name so I can tell the Boss I’m a good salesman.

The problem with this view of the Gospel is that it completely contradicts Scripture. Jesus Christ continually turned people away. Several times He even refused to talk to some people. The Apostles would leave if a town rejected them. Then, of course, the most amazing of all evangelism stories, we have Jonah himself who was the most reluctant yet successful apostle of all time.

The problem with treating the Gospel as a sales pitch is that we then market Truth. Hardly anyone wants Truth, so to make them take it, to sign their name, to get you closer to your quota, you have to change Truth so they’ll swallow it. Do whatever it takes to turn the No into a Yes.

This is a mockery of the Gospel. Although Jesus Christ and the apostles (with the exception of Jonah) cared for people and desired all men to be saved, none of them wanted your salvation to the extent that they’d change the message.

Yes, I know Paul said he was all things to all men to win some. Completely different. Paul was willing to change; his message wasn’t.  

For a business to stay in business sales need to be made. Since we’ve turned the church into a business and we are now dependent on money to keep it going, we need salesmen. Therefore we need classes on “how to present the Gospel to a post-modern world.”

But here’s the dirty little secret of evangelism: God really doesn’t need your “help.” He is not dependent on your sales quota. He is not bummed out “cuz we let another one get away.” His future is not determined by whether John Post-modern Doe wants His gospel. And nowhere does He tell us “If they won’t take it the first time, just keep dropping bits of truth until they find it palatable.”

This does not mean we aren’t supposed to evangelize, we are. But Evangelism without the Evangel is pointless. We are to preach the truth, in season and out, and people go their way. Salvation is of the Lord. We plant and we water, God gives the increase. If God is not the builder, the builders labor in vain.

Don’t act desperate with the Gospel, it has a power all it’s own. Nothing to be ashamed of. Preach it!

10 thoughts on “Evangelism and Sales”

  1. Yeah, I see the truth in that but think it’s also a tad simplistic. Faith comes by HEARING and hearing by the word of God. I’m all for living the Truth, but souls are saved by hearing it.

  2. Agreed, but what about James 4: 14-18 if we are preaching Christ but our faith is not active, what good does it do? Our actions speak louder than our words most times.

  3. i agree with you
    the word should not be changed.

    the church has been subject to many forms of misrepresentation through humans over the centuries. a lot of people have been misguided and abused through other people in this form of deception. some knowingly, some not aware of the deception that they have played a part in and passed on to others.

    thank God for the Love that is given to us.

  4. Thanks for this, Mr. Weddle.

    Here’s just one of my pet-peeves regarding evangelism. As you said, the gospel is often revised or reduced in order to make it more marketable. One of the most popular presentations of the gospel (in order to sell it) goes something like this: “Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior will change your life. Look at my life; see what a wickedly bad person I was; see how I’ve changed since meeting the Lord. Jesus changes lives.”

    The weakness of this should be obvious: all KINDS of things change lives. Cancer, death, murder, drought; the lottery; drugs, Buddhism, and the kidnapping of a child; all of these change lives. Moreover, all sorts of things change lives for the better: medicine, education, a good job, a windfall, even conversion from paganism to Mormonism. “Change” and even “conversion”, or the evidence thereof, are neither proof nor truth: they are not what authenticate Christ as Lord, Savior; God Incarnate.

    The Gospel is not essentially about transforming anyone, really. The Gospel is about God Incarnate, IN history. That historical fact stands alone, irrespective of its impact. It is, in one sense, an end in itself. Sadly, we neglect that fact in order to make it all about us, about how we change, or how we feel, or how we are justified by the fact of God’s Incarnation. We appeal too often to someone’s vanity in order to “win” him or her over: “Just look at how much better YOU will be if you become a Christian — free, guiltless, happy, even (depending on where you go to church) rich! I mean, really, you could become like ME!”

    Jesus Christ IS the gospel. The gospel is not about what he MIGHT do — for you or anyone else. In other words, the gospel is about causality, not effects. And yet we are obsessed with the effects; we market them.

    Just some thoughts.

    Blessings!

    BG

  5. i read bg’s comment
    bg is right about some things.
    i still believe that i am transformed by the Holy Spirit because i do believe that Jesus is the Son of God. and i think that people that do not believe this are not transformed in the same way. we are all changed by many things around us that are in our lives, and everyone has this in common.

    the good news is about Christ, actually the whole bible points to Christ. God in Jesus is the way back to a relationship with our Father God.

    bg is right about people have represented as being the church. people want to be in control. they want to name it, package it and market it.

  6. Bill,
    I think I see what you are saying. However, even Paul told Timothy to look at his life, he encouraged the churches to “follow me as I follow Christ.” I don’t know that personal transformation isn’t a component, in fact, if the Gospel has not changed you it’s debatable whether anyone would listen to your Gospel presetnation. At the same time, the end of the Gospel is to be like Christ, not like me or you, unless, of course, me and you are like Christ!

  7. Dear Jeff,

    Thanks for the reply.

    Paul did indeed tell Timothy to imitate him, but Timothy, as you know, already was a Christian. Evangelism often fails to be honest because it appeals to vanity — Look at all YOU can get! Think of Simon Magus in Acts 8:18; he wanted the Holy Spirit for selfish reasons. In a sense many preachers appeal to this same spirit in a man; and too often the same spirit that was in Simon Magus motivates some preachers.

    Jesus, ultimately, did not come with a message: He’s the message! The effects of the message are secondary, and sometimes the effects are not realized in the believer’s life: suffering often stands between Jesus’ promises and the fulfillment of those promises. Think of the (“good”) thief on the cross.

    In a sense, preachers “add to the prophecy” when they promise that Jesus’ promises (ALL) will come to immediate fruition RIGHT NOW if one just believes and receives. I heard a new convert two weeks ago testify to the whole church that “all his problems” are gone and that “everything has changed for good.” Sorry, but he’s in for a very rude awakening; he’s set himself up as one of those who receive the word of God with gladness but the cares of this world choke that word to death: the soil of too much evangelism is far too thin and the weeds of false promises threaten deep and abiding faith.

    (I recognize I’ve kind of bent the analogy out of shape a little bit, but you get the idea.)

    Blessings!

    BG

  8. Well said, Bill. I’ve heard it stated that much Christian application tends to battle sin with pride. It’s subtle and yet can have devestating results, not the least of which is eternal damnation.

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