6 Things Business Teaches Us About Evangelism
We love our champions. In any area, the champions and specialists of the world are welcomed with open arms. They bring expertise, passion, and amazing performance outcomes that no other individuals seem to net on their own.
The problem with the appreciation for specialists is that when a task is left to the specialists, the specialty becomes a silo, and the overall potential of the organization is defrauded.
What if we decided that any business activity, let’s say marketing, was performed by all members of the organization instead of being relegated the specialists? Tim Sanders writes in his new book, Dealstorming, about the idea that “genius is a team sport”.
The challenge for any organization, whether you are a church, a non-profit organization, or a profitable enterprise, is to democratize initiatives. This is no different when it comes to evangelism.
One of the things that I am passionate about is applying principles learned from the marketplace and applying them to the work of Kingdom. At times, I grieve that the marketplace shows a little more creativity, innovation, and tenacity than we do in the church. It doesn’t have to be this way.
I have had the opportunity to work simultaneously in both ministry and the marketplace. In fact, the same summer in which I graduated from architecture school, I was also ordained into the ministry. I assumed different leadership roles at my church including Pastor of Evangelism and Pastor of Membership. My training camp in the marketplace took me into different leadership roles in field of architecture, real estate development, and financial advisory. I now serve as Vice President of Visioneering Studios, a national Envision.Design.Build firm.
I have learned that if there are business principles that consistently work in the marketplace then it’s probably because it is a universal principle. Any principle that is universal, is more than likely a principle also found in scripture.
Evangelism in the Kingdom of God
Let’s unpack a bit what scripture says about evangelism.
We learn that the whole point of the New Testament is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This good news, summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, says that due to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, all of humanity has the opportunity to overcome sin and death, redeem our relationship with God, and gain access into an eternity with Him.
An evangelist is one who engages in the act, or the lifestyle, of evangelism which is the sharing of this good news. An evangelist is particularly burdened by the needs, questions, and frustrations that exist in culture and society; she recognizes that many of their life pursuits result in idolatry. She is deeply compassionate about those who live, work, and play in the margins of faith and believes that she has an answer for them. She is equally passionate about both sharing the gospel with people and equipping others to do the same. She believes that the Church should be a gracious host to those who are seeking for answers and sounds a call for our communities of faith to care for those who are far from God. As you read this, do people you know come to mind?
The Specialty of Evangelism
The problem is that when people of think of evangelism, or the description of an evangelist, they cringe. They think, “Well, that’s not what I’m gifted in. That’s Mark…or Susan.” They believe that evangelism is for the people who have been particularly gifted as evangelists. They will even cite Ephesians 4:11 to make the argument:
“Now, these are the gifts Christ gave to the church; the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors, and teachers.”
“See? Those are specific gifts,” one might exclaim. “This is a gift that I do not have. I will leave evangelism to those who are gifted.”
Well, hold on, buddy. It’s doesn’t work that way. Evangelism is not a silo…it’s a team sport.
The reality is that everyone is an evangelist. Every one of us has the opportunity…and responsibility…to share the good news. In Acts 1:8, we learn that we are all empowered to be evangelists. In Matthew 28:18-20, we learn that we are all commanded to be evangelists.
One of the greatest lessons I learned years ago was about relational evangelism. I read the book written by Bill Hybels and Mark Mittleberg called “Becoming a Contagious Christian”. For me, it helped to shatter the biggest misconception of what, and who, is an evangelist.
I distinctly remember that the small group study challenges participants to list what, and who, they think of when they think of evangelists; people like Billy Graham, Greg Laurie, Luis Palau, or Miles McPherson. The participants are then challenged to put a big “X” through those conceptions and “throw them out the window”.
Then, Hybels and Mittleberg paint a different picture of who is an evangelist. They go on to describe six examples of evangelists in scripture.
- The Confrontational Evangelist – On the Day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter stood up with an aggressive message that essentially told his Jewish onlookers that they had killed the Messiah they proclaimed to be waiting for.
- The Intellectual Evangelist – On Mars Hills, the Apostle Peter used cultural anthropology and persuasive discourse to speak up at the greatest intellectual platform of his day to share the good news of the Unknown God.
- The Testimonial Evangelist – In John 9, a blind man who knew nothing about who Jesus was or what theology he shared, testified that he was once blind but then healed…by Jesus.
- The Interpersonal Evangelist – In Luke 5, Matthew is described as having one of the most despised occupations of his day; a tax collector. However, when he responded to the calling as an apostle, his mode of sharing this good news was to invite people into his home for a dinner and a conversation.
- The Invitational Evangelist – In one of my favorite stories in scripture in John 4, a Samaritan woman met Jesus at Jacob’s well. After receiving words of living water, she ran back to her village and invited them to hear from the man who knew about the thirstiness of her soul and offered to quench it. Amazingly, the entire village accepted her invitation and ran to meet Jesus at the well. All the apostles brought back that day was a donkey.
- The Serving Evangelist – In Acts 9, we read about Dorcas who was a lady who served her community by making clothes for those in need. When she died, people remembered her example and were drawn to the gospel because of her servant spirit.
When I learned about these examples, I was both enlightened and liberated. I had lived under what I considered a yoke which was a specific model of an evangelist. I lived in shame because I didn’t feel comfortable with a prepared message or an aggressive approach. I thought I was failing. But when I began to imagine that that are many ways to evangelize and I was gifted in a unique way, I felt empowered.
The greatest threat to evangelism in the Kingdom of God is the mindset that evangelism should be relegated to the specialists. Oddly enough, this lesson can also be learned from one of the greatest business evangelists as well.
The Art of Evangelism
The concept of evangelism in the marketplace has been championed by Guy Kawasaki. Kawasaki who served as the Chief Evangelist for Apple and now serves as the Chief Evangelist for Canva as well as a Brand Ambassador for Mercedes Benz.
In his article, The Art of Evangelism, he explains that to engage in evangelism is “to proclaim the good news.” He describes evangelism marketing as “explaining to the world how your product or service can improve people’s lives.”
So, at Apple, his responsibility was “to proclaim the good news that Macintosh would make everyone more creative and productive.” At Canva, his responsibility is to “share a platform that democratizes design.”
For Kawasaki, is not about self-promotion, but rather sharing the best of what you do, your team, and your organization produce with others who can benefit.
But, even in the business world there is the danger of relegating evangelism, marketing, or sales to ones with specific titles. In our current world of new media, this is no longer true or acceptable. Technology allows for the democratization of these efforts. So, who are the new evangelists of today?
The New Evangelists
At their very core, evangelists truly have the best interests of others at heart. So, anyone who has the heart for people, has the heart of an evangelist. Here are examples of evangelists in the marketplace;
- Marketing Professionals: First, and foremost, evangelism is practiced by marketing professionals. They are paid for their experience and expertise to get results; not only in sharing the good news, but also to generate new leads. They are held accountable to equip the rest of the organization to share the good news.
- Sales Professionals: While marketing professionals are hired to tell the good news, sales professionals are hired to sell the good news. They are the ones who will contact the leads generated by the marketing team to convert them to contracts or sales.
- Employees: Some of the greatest evangelists in a company are the employees who are not directly involved in sales or marketing. They form part of the story because they have enlisted to team that adds value with their products or services. They themselves share the story when they tell their friends and family of how much they believe in the mission of the company, by posting the good news on social media, and by word of mouth.
- Leaders: Senior Leadership may not realize the power and responsibility they hold, not only by the telling of the story, but also in crafting a brand promise and making sure that they deliver results to the customer, stakeholder, and team member. Their role in casting a vision, developing strategies, monitoring progress, and developing a culture is the biggest way that they help to be the chief evangelists of the company. They equip their team to deliver, and deliver on, the great mission they have as an organization.
- Customers: For potential customers, it is sometimes a challenge to believe a company when it tells its own story whether it’s delivered by a leader, a marketer, or an employee. The most potent evangelist for a brand is a happy customer. In reality, the customer is the real hero of this corporate story. The company exists to be in service of the customer. No matter how great a product or brand promise it, if the customer’s needs are not served, then there is no value being delivered.
The (He)Art of Evangelism:
So, how can the Church draw some principles from the corporate world in a way that help them better serve their communities in the sharing of the Gospel? Here are some thoughts;
- Evangelism is about democratization. It is an activity that becomes accessible to everyone. Good leaders will equip their teams to understand, embrace, and share the good news. It is simple, clear and shareable.
- Evangelism is about stories. We all love stories. The best ones about are those that take the audience on a journey of transformation. These stories describe an authentic journey of ups and down and a contrast between the world at it is today and how it should be tomorrow. When the church shares personal stories of people whose lives have been transformed, this shows the power of the Gospel to save, to redeem, and to heal.
- Evangelism is about passion. I don’t know about you, but when I speak with passionate people, I am inspired. A magnetic message will either attract people or repel people. This is where the heart comes in. When you are passionate about something, you are willing to sacrifice and endure discomfort, awkwardness, or even hardship to see it through. In the case of the Gospel, you realize the blessing and the responsibility of being a messenger of such as transformative story. At the end of the day, the story is not about you, it is about a God who loved the world so much that He would give His son to be offered as a sacrifice for the world. That is passion.
- Evangelism is about sharing and equipping. The impact that an evangelist should be two-fold; they have personally shared the good news and they have equipped others to do the same. The greatest travesty an evangelist is that the entire movement falls apart with the departure of the evangelist. Organizations that focus on empowering their entire team, from top to bottom and from department to department, will see exponential results. If you think that the organization benefits from a persuasive, charismatic storyteller, can you imagine what would happen if the entire organization became evangelists? The impact would be remarkable.
- Evangelism is about intentionality and strategy. Most of evangelism has been relegated to its art such as persuasiveness, charisma, and storytelling. This is a fantastic part of evangelism marketing. However, if it is relegated to art alone, it will fall short of its potential impact. Evangelism must also be intentional and directed by strategy. It is no longer good enough to merely say, “Well, we have this goal, and we have these people who are on the team…well, they should just meet their goals! Go forth and multiply!” There are so many questions that need to be answered; what is unique about our company? What is the unique product or service that offer? Who is our target demographic? What are the psychographics about our target market? How will we get our story to them? How will we incorporate market feedback to iterate our strategies? Developing a strategy is about answering those question and creating a roadmap to achieve your goals.
- Evangelism is about servanthood. In 1970, Robert K. Greenleaf wrote his famous essay, The Servant as Leader. He wrote; “The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.” When the evangelist understand that she carries a message that people need to hear, then she will understand that she has a responsibility to share it. If the evangelist and her organization discover, distill, and deliver their message simply, clearly, and powerfully, they will naturally see growth in their movement. It should always begin, though, with the understanding the company is in service to the customer.