chris brogan on evangelism : being there before the sale

chris brogan : be there before the sale : relationship in marketing & evangelism from Gavin Richardson on Vimeo.

so i took in that live web event last week with chris brogan and i've been pondering on some of what he said and i'm reading in "trust agents." he wasn't at all speaking to a church context, but as with most things (but is becoming much easier in todays business environment & language) i turn it around into some church framework.

one of the things chris brought out were some stories of 'trust agents' who were "there before the sale." it was one of those quotable moments as you could see heads dive into notepads and laptops typing.

it reminded me from a time last summer where i hosted a conversation with regular church going folk & those who are disenfranchised with the church and might call themselves non-religious or spiritual but not religious put together by my friend jim palmer. one of the stories that really stuck with me from a participant was how they were put off that the friends they made in their neighborhood, invited them to church, eventually helped them come into Christ, then left them hanging as they moved onto some other couple. this person then found out that this was a process of that church and they were to go befriend new people to bring them to the church as well.

so what makes up evangelism in when our common framework makes up some commodity sale & that conflicts with how people want to be treated & how we improperly fix some consumption to grace? is there a way in which one could just "be there" with people and not try and control the workings of God to force a sale of salvation, but allow God's mystery to work?… i don't know, maybe you have some ideas


  1. says

    I love what you have to say about Grace not being ours to sell. I love it. I find myself in the midst of youth ministry that is HIGHLY relational. 90% of what I do is working on relationships with students. It’s not just that I am called to be here before the “sell,” but I really believe that I am called to just be here period.
    I know that there are some kids that I will just loose. They will never embrace the gospel of Christ (at least not while they are in my sphere of influence). I know (and it keeps me awake at night) that there are some that will die in darkness because they have not embraced the Gospel. BUT those of us in the Gospel ministry (not just clergy) are called to be salt and light in the context of genuine relationships with people who are wounded and broken by the Fall. Even as we ourselves are wounded and broken, without regard for the number of conversion notches we have in our belt.
    That is not to say, however, that we are not constantly preaching the Gospel with our words and lives. In fact, relational ministry is just that, preaching the Gospel of Christ with our very lives. It is God who makes the calling of the Gospel effectual.
    Dang I love being a Calvinist!

  2. Shay says

    Gavin, I have read your blog for a while now and really appreciate what you blog about. I think you’re dead on in this post.
    In the “being there before the sale” approach, something is still being sold. The means of marketing just takes on another face to be more stealth in making the sale. As soon as the pitch is made, whether in the first minute or years down the road, the person being sold will know what is happening if they haven’t caught on earlier. If the relationship is based on a specific end game, that relationship is inauthentic and manipulative.
    The culture today has made people hyper-sensative and hyper-aware of when they are being sold something. Taking this approach to evangelism seems to be even more harmful than being open and honest with what you are hoping for the non-believer.
    As Christians are we called to love others so that they will buy what we’re selling or are we to love others because Christ first loved us? Yes, we are to make disciples, but do we have to sell Jesus to people for them to buy in to Christianity or will our love, joy, peace, and work for justice in the world be enough to show the intrinsic value of the gospel? Marketing strategies are used because companies to make people see their product as more valuable and necessary than they really might be. Does Jesus need to be hyped?

  3. says

    hey ashley, i’m with you on the being there. its a grand culture shift in ministry to get away from a consumerist mentality in faith communities, which will ‘justify’ God’s blessing on our ministries (can say # or conversions work in that scenario). being a church staff person on a ministry that people like those markers (and i don’t mind them at some level to keep track of who is or isn’t part of the community) its a real balancing act.
    shay, great point on the long term ‘pitch’ idea. one of the things i would recognize is that there is some ‘buy in’ by a person when they go to a revival event, christian concert, youth group, etc. they can expect some presentation of the gospel (hopefully not in a sales pitch manner, but it happens) but for establishing relationship for the purpose of conversion does seem disingenuous. love love! the point on marketing by companies seeing their products as more important than their customers.. excellent point. it stirs some thoughts i’ll leave for another post sometimes as its working into a framework of a book i’m trying to crank out. (dang was that just a sales pitch? haha)

  4. Carol says

    Hi Gavin,
    I found your blog thru the video you posted on Youtube about hearing Chris Brogan. I just heard him at the New Media Expo/Blogworld in Las Vegas and was very impressed.
    I work with ministries helping them with their media outreach and I really appreciate what Chris is saying – and what you are emphasizing.
    Blessings to you!

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