Wise Soulwinning 101: Marketing “Jesus as the Product”

It was T.D. Jakes who said the controversial statement, “I think that Jesus is the product.” When I first heard this, I was horribly offended. I said, “How DARE he reduce the Savior of the World to a mere marketable product?” But after receiving insight from God about “soul winning” the other day, I can now see that at least in SOME sense, Jakes made some sense.

I learned in middle school that in opening and operating a business, people are either offering a product or a service. College, for example, offers a service of educating people for the price of tuition. Starbucks, for example, sells a product – coffee – for cash. So if Jakes is right about his statement, then Christianity/ministry would be the service provided; and Jesus would be the “product” (for lack of a better term).

In marketing classes, I learned and remembered a thing or two. One thing I learned is about target audiences and advertisements. I learned that your ads and commercials must be tailor-made to appeal to your target audience. For example, if you are selling Gerber baby food, you are likely and mostly targeting caring mothers who have infants. And your commercials will be specifically made to appeal to these mothers. And you will have a marketing team that will spend much time and money making commercials that will grab the attention of and secure the business of these parents by strongly persuading them to buy Gerber food for their baby for as long as the baby will need it. And if you advertise just right, the mother will only buy Gerber food, and she will buy it not just for the baby she has now but for all babies she births in the future. Now that’s what you call “sealing the deal”.

So how can we relate that to Christianity? Well, just think of the churches you see that are publicized on radio and television. They are usually one of many church programs you see on the channel or station. And the pastor or one of his or her spokespersons will say and do specific things to appeal to you. They may say something to the effect of:

  1. “Not too many churches preach and teach the unadulterated word of God anymore. They compromise to fit in with the rest of the world. Give me that old time religion; it’s good enough for me….”
  2. “Too many churches are legalistic and judgmental. They give you a list of Do’s and Don’ts to put you in right      standing with God. But here, we love and accept everybody – just like Jesus does. Everyone is welcome….”
  3. “Are you tired of church as usual? Well, this isn’t your grandma’s church! This is the church home of many of this      city’s youth who are looking for a fresh perspective and relationship with Jesus. It’s time out for dry, dead services. There are no little u’s (you’s) and Big I’s here….”

And before and after they air their services, they will usually petition you to visit or join their church and/or to send financial donations.

Does that not sound JUST like marketing? You can tell that they each have a target audience in mind that they are petitioning. They are trying to appeal to a specific type of Christian or unbeliever by telling them what they want to hear so that they will come visit, join, and or financially support that church. You can probably guess from my abovementioned examples the type of people the three churches are appealing to. The first church is appealing to a stricter, older crowd. The second church MAY be appealing to backsliders or “lukewarm Saints”. The third church is likely appealing to a young, hip generation. Every church appeals to a target audience.

But when it comes to Christianity on a larger scale – and more specifically – soul winning, what are the best marketing strategies? Here is what I’ve learned about drawing in unbelievers to lead them to salvation. Here’s what I learned of what does and does not work in “Evangelism Marketing”.

1. You can’t present a product or service in only ONE package and then expect it to appeal to everyone or expect for everyone to respond favorably to it.

Jude 1:22-23 – And have mercy on (1) those who doubt; save (2) others by snatching them out of the fire; to (3) others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

From the looks of Jude 1:22-23, there appears to be different types of unbelievers or backsliders. One type are doubters. They just need assurance of the gospel’s validity, security of what Christians are saying, and strengthening of their faith. With these types, we shouldn’t bash them over their head with a bible. We shouldn’t utilize scare tactics to get them to get saved. We shouldn’t scream at them and call them damned heathens. They simply need a lot of questions answered. They have some questions that they need answered and settled. They might have just left another religion or a cult. They may really want to know why they should become Christians as opposed to Hindus, Buddhists, or Muslims. So if you apply the wrong “treatment” to their condition, you can have lost them forever.

The second type needs to be snatched quickly off of the wrong path because they are on their way to eternal fire either certainly or soon. The third possible type needs to be showered with mercy, but fearful mercy. And with this type we shouldn’t be lackadaisical about their lost condition, but we are to ABHOR, HATE, DETEST that they have been contaminated by lustful, sinful flesh.

While the gospel should not be altered to cater to everyone’s fancy, wisdom knows that everybody doesn’t like – and therefore won’t always respond to – every presentation. Not everyone responds to hellfire and brimstone messages. Does that mean that preachers should never tell the truth about the harsh and horrorshow realities of hell? Absolutely not. But I do believe that brimstone sermons – at least when overdone – will cause churches and preachers to lose (sometimes permanently) the attention of SOME people.

Some people don’t respond to scare tactics. You have to KNOW your “consumers”. Study them. See what pushes their buttons so to speak. If you come at them in a way that they will respond to, then obviously they will respond. Don’t think for a minute that every unbeliever is an unbeliever because they have not encountered one of your particularly fiery and scary hellfire sermons. Many people who WILL be saved have heard plenty of those types of sermons week after week, year in and year out, and yet they have never responded because that ad did not appeal to them.

Some people are intellectuals. Appeal to their intellect. Explain to them how Jesus is obviously the only way to go. Some people are fearful. Appeal to their fear of death and their anxiety about being uncertain of where they will reside of eternity. Some people have been poor for a long time. Appeal to them by saying that God will provide for all of their needs in one way or another. Some people are lonely, let them know that Jesus will never leave nor forsake them. Some people like to be radical, appeal to their interest in being a “Jesus Freak”. Some people feel they have no purpose in life; appeal to their desire to have a God who gives them a purposeful future. It’s all the GOSPEL – which is another word for “the good news”. It’s all true. But use one aspect over another if that’s what it takes to draw them in.

2. At the risk of sounding facetious, you may have to leave some things in the fine print until later.

Matthew 4:19 – And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Let’s be real talk. Becoming a Christian has its costs. And many converts are just not willing to pay it all up front. For example, if you tell someone that before they get saved they must cut out every sin – even their favorites, they may not come any time soon, if at all. But if you tell them to come as they are, they will come as they are. And after they make the commitment, maybe then would be a better time to tell them that God doesn’t love the fact that they listen to violent rap music or the fact that the women dress with her cleavage overly on display. The bible does say to count the cost before you become a disciple of Christ, so they do need to know that it will be “expensive”. But you don’t have to give them a break down list of everything they must cut out within the next week in order to secure their salvation!

For some people, if you can get them to come down the altar as a public act of their surrender to God and their belief in Jesus as their Savior, that is the most important step. It’ll be easier to convince a Christian to surrender gambling to Christ than it would be to ask an unbeliever to quit gambling. As I was told, you have to CATCH the fish before you can skin it. If they can see the hook, line, and sinker all up front, they may never bite the bait! Jesus told the disciples that He would make them fisher of men. Some men catch fish with nets; others catch fish with bait and hook. You have to bait them in first. And once they bite the bait, you have the hook already in them. Then you skin them.

3. Know your target audience and minister accordingly.

It is quite difficult to sell a man something that he doesn’t feel/think/know he needs just like it’ll be impossible to convince me to take some medicine that I don’t think I need. It’ll be challenging to get someone to commit to a time-consuming, inconvenient, gruesome workout plan when they see no need for it. And so it will be near impossible to convince a man to receive salvation when he doesn’t feel that he is lost or damned.

Proverbs 11:30 – …he who winneth souls is wise.

The bible says that whoever wins souls is wise. This is so true! If you can win a soul to the Father, you are wise because it requires wisdom to know how to persuade someone to do something, to buy what you’re offering when it comes to salvation. First, you have to know that person fairly well or at least be able to discern things about that person. And then when they trust you, they’ll trust when you offer them something that you see that they need. If my doctor knows me and if I know my doctor’s history, I’ll trust when he says I need a certain medicine or procedure done. And so when it comes to ministry, you have to know who you’re after first of all. Study the audience. Discern their needs. Pray to God about what it is that is keeping them from believing and receiving the gospel message. Pray to God to tell you what that person needs to hear to draw them in. Pray for wisdom to win their soul. This might be controversial, but I’m going to list the name of some well-known ministers, who I believe their target audience is, and how they wisely present the gospel accordingly:

  • Joel Osteen – Discouraged believers/unbelievers – Encouraging, motivational bible verses and stories/prosperity gospel
  • Joyce Meyer – Defeated believers – Wisdom and personal testimonies of how God helped her to get the victory and related bible story examples
  • Creflo Dollar – Financially struggling believers – Bible passages from the Old and New Testament about how God will financially bless His children/prosperity gospel
  • Kenneth Copeland – Sick believers – Bible verses on healing/prosperity gospel
  • Paul Washer – Lukewarm Christians/unbelievers – Passionate, hellfire sermons
  • Charles Stanley – Conservative Christians – Fundamental, conservative, old school messages
  • John MacArthur – Educated Christians – Hermeneutical, expository, exegetical, scholarly teaching
  • TD Jakes – Discouraged, traditional churched believers – Charismatic churchy with a new twist/prosperity gospel

Now whether or not we agree with all that these ministers preach and teach, we can all agree that they have seen much “success” in the “ministry business”. They have wisely presented certain aspects of Christian living in a certain way to certain people. I’m sure they all haven’t voiced their ENTIRE opinion publicly. And depending on how much they disclose, it determines how far they can go and how many people they can reach.

For example, many people do not know of Paul Washer and John MacArthur because they are very opinionated and unwavering in their strict beliefs. But those preachers who are not as fundamental get bigger platforms. They will reach more people. Now we all may not agree with how they do what they do, but I see a purpose in it. I can see that the unbeliever, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist that Paul Washer will NEVER reach, has a chance of hearing Washer SOME DAY perhaps after that unbeliever stumbles across Joel Osteen while flipping through the channels. You may not like someone’s style or approach of getting the word out about God and Jesus, but at least He is being preached. And I do believe that some men can open the door/sow the seed, and then another man can seal the deal by drawing them in/reaping the soul. Maybe one man can pass out the “coupon”, but another man can sell the product.

Philippians 1:15-17 – Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

Rejoice when Jesus is being preached and proclaimed and accepted as people’s Lord and Savior regardless of who closed the deal! That is one less soul that will spend an unspeakable, unbearable eternity in the lake of fire.

Many people have amazing inventions and services that many people would do well to patronize. BUT the problem is that they have the arduous task of convincing others to purchase their product or services. Our product/brand/service is THE BEST without a doubt. The hard part is PROMOTION. If everyone knew how great is our God, how sweet our Savior, how beautiful our afterlife, and how precious our faith, they’d all get saved. But they don’t know how great our product is. And they don’t know how badly they need it. Persuade them of their need. Glorify Jesus so that Christianity looks attractive. Pray for wisdom when evangelizing for souls. The product is so good, it can sell itself once they see what it can do for their life. So be the one who wisely introduces it to them! Seal the deal!

Unresolved Issues: Magnets Attracting What’s Wrong and Repelling What’s Right

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Ever wonder why you’re attracted to certain people and why certain people tend to be attracted to you? Also, have you ever wondered why some people are “repulsive” to you and why you also seem to be repelled by certain people? This doesn’t just have to apply to romantic partners, but it can also apply to friendships and even church membership. Have you ever stopped to think how you became drawn to or turned off to one person or group? While having one of my usual, unusual talks with God, the topic of MAGNETISM came up as an analogy to understand relationships. And this is what I discovered.

How we get into different types of relationships is kind of like how a refrigerator magnet is drawn to a refrigerator. The ONLY thing that draws them together is the Law of Magnetism. And what draws you to one individual over another individual can be considered a different kind of magnetism. I did a little research about how magnets are made. So as not to bore you with all the details, here is a very brief summary.

Magnets are made of a group of metals known as ferromagnetic metals. These are metals such as nickel, iron, cobalt, and gadolinium. Material contains several small magnetic fields known as “domains”. Most of these domains are independent of each other and so they face different directions. But when a strong magnetic field is nearby, it can be strong enough to cause all those domains to turn and face in the same direction so that they can align and make a larger, stronger magnetic field. All magnets are attracted to Iron and Nickel. There are temporary (soft) magnets and permanent (hard) magnets. Temporary magnets lose their magnetism over time as the domains revert to their original (individual) position. But permanent magnets continue to face the same direction permanently. The way to make a magnet is to have a ferromagnetic metal heated to or beyond their Curie temperature. To make it temporary, heat it (exactly) to its Curie temperature. Magnets do not only attract other things. They repel things as well. All magnets have a South and a North pole. If you try to connect the two North poles together or try to connect the two South poles together, they will repel/reject connection with one another. But if you try to connect the South pole with the other magnet’s North pole, they will connect/attract one another.

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When you think of your refrigerator magnets, you know that they will always be attracted to your refrigerator. So there must be something IN magnets and something IN refrigerator doors that draw them to each other. We can relate that to people as well. It reminds me of women who keep attracting abusive men/who are constantly attracted to abusive men. Even if these women do not know that these men are abusive, they still attract them for some reason.

When I consider my exes, I find it interesting how I was drawn to all of them because none of my two exes are very similar. And so since I was attracted to each of them, even though they are all so different, it shows me that I was changing as a person. It showed me that I was not the same type of person at the time I dated each of them. That leads me to the conclusion that WHO you are drawn to at any particular time can give you insight into WHO you were at the time you began speaking to them. And it also shows you what kind of person they were when they liked you. For example, if you liked a drug addict from 2005-2007, it shows me that you were either a drug addict or codependent person at that time. And if you dated a man who knew you were cheating on him from 2007-2009, it shows me that you were dating a man with poor self-esteem for those years. We attract certain people based on what is going on in our personal lives at the time. And I believe it was Dr. Henry Cloud who said that we attract into our lives what we are ready for. And so for me at least, an accurate appraisal of who I was at the time I began dating a person shows me what some of my unresolved issues were at the time. I noticed that when I consider all of my exes since freshmen year of college, that as God healed me of childhood issues throughout the years until this day that each subsequent ex seemed to be emotionally healthier than the last ex to mirror my emotional health level! Who I was dating at the time was a reflection of me at the time!

There are some women who only attract sex addicts, controlling men, abusive men, closeted homosexuals, philanderers, lazy men, secret pedophiles etc. And while I am not accusing these women of being the reason they are mistreated in relationships, we have to admit that the common denominator in 100% of her past relationships is her. I’m not saying that something about that woman turns normal men into abusers/addicts/cheaters/etc. But I am saying that something about her draws men who are already abusers/addicts/cheaters/etc.

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Some women may say, “Okay, well now that I am aware that my last 5 boyfriends have been abusive. I will dump the abuser I am with now, and I will begin to date loving men from here on out.” That sounds like a good plan, but according to what we know of magnets, that will be unlikely. Your refrigerator magnets can ONLY be attracted to the something that is common in all refrigerators. And some women have unresolved issues that keep them attracting the wrong partners. A great man can show interest in her and can ask her on a date, and that emotionally unhealthy woman will say, “He’s a nice guy, but I’m just not attracted to him. He’s too…NICE.” This woman’s unresolved issues REPEL what is good for her and ATTRACT what is wrong for her. Something about bad boys will make her swoon and something about good men will repulse her even though she knows and will admit that this should not be the case.

Magnets will ALWAYS be attracted to refrigerators. And just because a magnet has an epiphany one day that these refrigerators are not good for it, it does not mean the magnet can change itself or its attraction to refrigerators. Magnets can’t change themselves and neither can humans – without God’s help. Remember, there is something inherent in all magnets that draw them to refrigerators. There is something inherent in all women who are constantly drawn to unfaithful men. There is something inherent in all women who are constantly drawn to abusive men. There is something inherent in all women who are constantly drawn to men who have alcohol/drug addictions. And until these women find out what that unresolved issue of theirs is, they are helpless to change the problem and their attraction to problem men.

If you want to hinder what is drawing a magnet to something magnetic, you will first have to change the magnet. If you put liquid water on a dry sponge, the dry sponge WILL soak it up. That’s the only way things can go with wet water and dry sponges; it cannot be any other way. And magnets MUST be drawn to refrigerators. So you can know that you have a problem with attracting the wrong type of men and you can know you have a problem with being drawn to the wrong type of men, but YOU are helpless to change the situation. You can know the type of men you are supposed to be dating and marrying. You can know that you should not be repelling these good men just to accept bad men, but YOU are helpless to change the situation.

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But God.

But God can change whatever is in you that is attracting the wrong person. A woman named Liberty Savard wrote a book called, “Breaking the Power”. And this book enlightened me about what Liberty calls “unhealed hurts, unresolved issues, and unmet needs”. She talked about how many of our recurrent, troublesome life issues can basically be resolved if we ask and allow God to heal our unhealed hurts, resolve our unresolved issues, and meet our unmet needs usually sprouting from childhood.

In other words, God can remove whatever we are composed of that’s keeping us attracted to and dating the wrong people and that’s keeping us single by having us to refuse/repel the right people so that we can love freely as we should in a healthy way in a marriage. In keeping with the magnet lingo, God can “heat us BEYOND our “Curie temperature” so that we will PERMANENTLY be able to love and be loved. But this will never be possible if God does not meet the unmet need, heal the unhealed hurt, and resolve the unresolved issue.

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Remember that the unresolved issues that make you who you are also what ATTRACT the wrong people into your life in addition to you repelling the right people. So until God fixes that in you, you will always attract the wrong people. So while some of you may think that bumping into Mr. Right will fix all your issues, please know that UNTIL you allow God to fix some of your more serious intimacy, self-esteem issues, you will attract nothing BUT Mr. Wrong. Mr. Rights will only be attracted to Ms. Rights. And Ms. Wrongs will ONLY attract Mr. Wrongs not to mention they can only be attracted to Mr. Wrongs.

I can speak personally when I say that God will begin changing these “magnets” within you today if you surrender all and ask Him too. And don’t be discouraged if you don’t see changes right away. I’ve found God to work more behind the scenes than He does in front of the curtain. He begins working as soon as you ask Him to – if you’re not sabotaging by working against Him. While it has been a sometimes anxiety-provoking transformation that has taken a few years, this has been an amazing journey for me to be able to love freely and fearlessly. Please don’t let your unresolved issues let you miss out on something so worthwhile.