No, this is not a review of the Arthur Miller Pulitzer Prize winning book or the Tony Award winning play. Instead, this is more of a dream of mine, a desire to kill the salesman so that life can return to normal. Before you decide to call the authorities and report me for a crime it appears I am planning to commit, please read on.
It isn’t any particular person but rather all salesmen.
Well, actually, it isn’t all salesmen but rather all salesmen that market a particular product. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t the salesmen themselves I want to kill but instead it is the job they do that I want to see come to a quick end, never to be revived.
It’s time to end the sales of Christianity through church marketing programs.
Many bought into it by joining what could best be described as a multi-level marketing scheme. A leader buys a book, the church buys the corresponding training material. The leadership attends all the training sessions and the church rebrands itself, always referring to their style by including the name of the organization whose formulas and marketing ideas it now follows.
At the top sits the church or organization that insists that you need to train salesmen (woman are included) and create elaborate marketing programs if you are going to get people out to church. At the bottom sits churches that want to fill their pews but instead have emptied out their bank accounts.
If we are going to buy into selling Christianity we should at least choose the best marketing plan.
You can create all the glossy advertising and slick social media campaigns. You can create great shows and institute top notch programing. You can do a lot of things that show off the quality and commitment you and your church have, after all that is what many “how to” Christian books have peddled over the years. The funny thing is, the least expensive, the least labour and training intensive and the most effective marketing of any product is someone who has had great experiences with the product telling others about it.
There is no need for salesmen, no need for a slick campaign, just people who love what they have telling others about it. If this is what works best in the secular world of sales, how much better will it work when we embrace God’s call to share our faith? There is no need to sell Christianity but rather we need to “…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV).
There’s nothing wrong with great programs and presentations.
The problem came when churches went from using giftings to further the personal growth of believers and reach those who did not believe to putting on a show. Along with the show came the egos that often accompany show business. Being on a worship team or running a kid’s program became the goal and preaching entertaining sermons to large crowds the pinnacle. It was less and less about God and more and more about marketing the church and showing off talents in hopes that one day you too can say you belong to a big church with all the best programs.
My dream is the death of the salesman.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18-24 (NIV)
No marketing campaign or great sales job can overcome the natural dislike humans have for the “product” Christians represent. There may be some great ideas in the “how to” Christian books we read but in the end, everything we do for the kingdom must be based on the wisdom of God not the wisdom, marketing and sales skills of man. It’s time to make choice:
We can be a God based church reflected in everything we do.
We can be a program based church that reflects on God after things are done.