Jesus is the worst sales pitch ever

I'm sure this is a real page turner...

Have  you ever sat in on a timeshare presentation? You’re on vacation, spending $100 every time you get out of the car with your family, and a very nice front desk person tells you… “Mr. McLane, if you’d be willing to sit down and talk with us about our vacation packages, we’ll give you $100 in cash and free tickets to a show. It’ll only be about an hour.

It seems like it will be worth it until you actually do it. For an hour they berate you with every sales tactic in the book. They show you the property. They say, “Imagine coming here for two weeks every year, wouldn’t that be great?” Or “You can trade your weeks for points and go anywhere in the world! And it’ll already be paid for.” Or my favorite, “Mr. McLane, you work hard. Doesn’t your family deserve a vacation like this every year?

It’s moment of insincerity, remembering your kids names, relating stories of other pastors who have joined, on and on. The more they talk the more you want to punch them in the face. It’s hard to say $100 for an hour of your time isn’t worth it. But it’s not worth it.

No offense to those who have bought timeshares. But you go into the presentation either knowing you want to buy one or you don’t.

In which case, since I’m already wanting to buy in the pitch is useless. And for the person who already knows they don’t want to buy the salesperson is just going through the motions and so are you… you just want to be nice enough to get the $100. (And those who get talked into it are more preyed upon than sold on it, right?)

It’s all just a game, isn’t it? I know I’m not going to cave and buy a $30,000 timeshare because I don’t want one. And before I arrived at the presentation my wife and I already told ourselves that no matter what, we’re going to be polite, but we’re just taking our $100 and going to the beach later.

We are not buying a timeshare in Ft. Lauderdale.

Selling Jesus

Photo by David Prasad via Flickr (Creative Commons)

This is, at it’s core, the problem with the “If you build it, they will come” strategy so popular in Christianity.

The sales manager (aka the pastor) polishes up his sales pitch and tells his sales team (congregation) that if they can bring the prospects, (non-church goers) he will close the deal. (I mean, get them to give their lives to Jesus.)

When pastors tell their congregation to do this, there is always a sly little smile, as if to say… “They’ll never know that what we’re about to do is tell them about Jesus.”  Yeah– as if visitors are surprised that your marriage seminar is really a Gospel presentation? Doubt it.

The problem is that the psychology doesn’t work.

Put yourself in the car of a non-church goer about to visit your church with you. You are either interested or you aren’t before you even get there, right? If you aren’t interested in church you are thinking, “No matter what, just be polite, drink the coffee, and peace out ASAP. I’m doing this for my friend.

No amount of manipulation or sales pitch methods will get that person to change their mind. Why? They are locked in as uninterested. And one could argue that those who get talked into it are more preyed upon than sold on it, right?

The problem is that the theology doesn’t work.

Jesus isn’t a deal.

  • Regeneration of the soul happens only when the Holy Spirit calls a person to Himself, right? (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter X) A sales pitch can be used by the Holy Spirit. But, as I heard over and over again in Haiti, an earthquake can be just as effective a call.
  • A life with Jesus is messier than a tight 35 minutes with 5 points, isn’t it? While a presentation of the Gospel is excellent at piecing things together in someone’s mind, coming to faith in Christ is more an unwinding of life’s ball of yarn than winding it up into a ball.
  • Jesus promises that a life lived in relationship with Him will be more difficult than a life without Him in your life. (Romans 12:1; John 15:18) That is a pretty tough thing to “sell” from a platform. Come and be like Jesus, who died on a cross penniless and almost no friends!
  • In a world that lives for today, an assurance of heaven, pearly gates, and a mansion tomorrow is a program they don’t want. That doesn’t make salvation any less important. You just can’t stand in front of people and say, “If you were to die tonight… would it be heaven or would it be hell?” Culturally, that’s just not what people are thinking about!

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

6 comments

  1. So what ways would you suggest that we reach the unchurched or the non churchgoer’s? Are we to not go them about it? Let them not know the Love of God!?! I don’t want to attack, but it seems that you have pointed out all the negative points of someone’s visit….What about the nonchurch goers that somewhere inside them do have questions, do have some kind of need? What about the people who do go with that manner of, “Fast in and Fast out!” But they are stopped by some words in a song, that might have made them think or a few words of scripture read and made them want more!! And what about the unsales pitch!( The way someone live’s their life) That might get someone’s attention and make them want to know what that person knows! I think if we down talk, or even make fun of our christian beliefs or methods of reaching people….none of our methods will work…We are just as bad as the non-christians that do it!
    Blessings,
    Cord Doss

    1. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but this method is working with decreasing returns. The method is never holy, the message is.

      I’m not saying people shouldn’t share their faith, quite the opposite. I’m saying churches would be wise to get serious about educating their congregants in methods that actually work.

  2. Nice, Adam. Thanks for sharing this. I really like “The method is never holy, the message is.”

  3. By simply counting Don’ts againts Do’s in this text we see that the only purpose behind the post is to share the “Reasons I hope will excuse me from doing simply ANYTHING for the Kingdom”. The text is missing the final line: “The world’s about to collapse and there’s nothing you can do about it, but die right now”.

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