I have a BBA in Marketing. I want to relay something that I learned from studying marketing that relates to evangelism. I hate comparing those two very different things, but, bear with me. This is helpful (I think).
One of the things that stuck with me from those marketing courses in college was the idea that everything your company does is marketing.
In business, everything is marketing.
Many people think of “marketing” as being the same as “advertising.” Things like designing a pretty poster or a catchy TV ad.
That is one aspect of marketing, but guess what?
So is your customer support process.
So is the fact that it’s easy (or hard) to find your restaurant’s hours.
How clear are your product’s installation instructions? Marketing.
How easy is it for a handicapped person to park and get into the store? Marketing.
How friendly are the cashiers? Marketing.
How recognizable are the uniforms your employees wear? Marketing.
How clean are your bathrooms? Marketing.
The list goes on.
Every touchpoint that a customer has with your business influences their perception of your business. Therefore each of these things come back to marketing in some way or another.
Everything is marketing.
I think this is also true of evangelism.
In church, everything is evangelism.
We tend to think of evangelism as “telling someone the good news.” It is that, but it also could be:
How pleasing is your church’s building?
At your meetings, do people who aren’t used to going to church feel welcome, or intimidated?
When I had that disagreement with so-and-so, did I respond with grace?
How does the church handle conflict?
How does the church talk about money?
Is the guitar in tune?
Does the design of your newsletter look like it’s from the 90s?
Is the teaching in the church high quality?
Is the kids’ programming fun for the kids?
My friend Erik used to complain about the marketing department at his job, “While I’m up here writing the code that runs our software, they send over a new screensaver for us all to use.” I think many people feel that way about marketing departments—they feel like they never do anything. But marketing is much more than just pretty screensavers. Same with evangelism. It is much more than we think it is.
Think more broadly about evangelism.
I bring this up because I see in a lot of churches, small churches particularly, that they are very interested and motivated about evangelism. And by that we mean that we want to go and tell people about God. And that’s good!
But yet we often fail to think about some of the simpler things that we also need to be doing. The practical things. You could say, the easy things. They get neglected.
Everything we do, in some way, is evangelism.
The maintenance and aesthetics of our church buildings are a form of evangelism.
This is harder for small churches than for big churches, I think. Bigger churches have staff who are paid to think about these things. But smaller churches are oriented more like a family than an organization, and people learn to “put up” with some of the less desirable aspects. “Yes the building should be repainted, but we’ll get to that eventually. No one really minds too much.” But it’s easy to forget how it appears to someone who isn’t already a part of the family.
The maintenance and aesthetics of our church buildings are a form of evangelism.Tweet
Of course, the core of evangelism will always be proclamation.
We can’t neglect to proclaim the good news with our voices. This is critical. You’ve probably heard the phrase, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” Some people go way too far with this idea, and basically give up on ever actually talking about the good news! (Also, it turns out, St. Francis of Assisi didn’t actually say this.)
Rick Warren has a great take on this, he says (I’m paraphrasing here), “You mean to say that your life is so amazing that you won’t have to say a single word? The way you live is so clear that people will just see you living your life and immediately realize that they should turn to God?” It’s unlikely. You probably need to use some words along with your example.
Proclamation is critically important.
But also, evangelism is… cleaning.
But yet, people do see the gospel in us probably more than we realize through the simple, everyday things.
We should pursue excellence in all of these areas precisely because we care about evangelism.
“People don’t read the Bible, but they do read other Christians.” A speaker (name slips my mind at the moment) at Amplify Conference a few years ago said this and it makes perfect sense.
Everything is evangelism.
Listen to the podcast version of this article
In which I tell an embarrassing story of our church as an example of how I learned this lesson the hard way.