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How Evangelists are like Salesman

January 11, 2013

I think too often people get the idea that evangelists are like salesmen.  I used to really hate that idea, but it’s growing on me.  I want to tell you today that the comparison is absolutely TRUE!! (from a certain perspective of course)

Before we do anything, let’s look at why we hate salesmen.

To begin with, when we think of salesmen, we often get the picture of the creepy vulture with slicked back hair wearing a $30 suit loitering on used car lots.  Or maybe it’s the overly friendly guy who knocks on your door, bearing wares you simply cannot live without!!

The fact is, we know these people don’t really care about us.  They’re trying to manipulate us into purchasing something we don’t really need so they can make a buck.  I mean, how many times does your vacuum cleaner break down on you five minutes before the guy knocks on the door?  How did he know I needed a new vacuum cleaner?  What fortune!

Evangelist.  Good word?  Bad word?  For many the word brings nightmarish images of people yelling at you on the street, maybe holding signs, etc.  Or perhaps, the used car salesman type pops up in your mind.  You see a man walking around a stage with velvet high-back chairs, wearing flashy rings and a silky suit telling you to “come to Jesus’ah”… and he’s asking for money.  Maybe it’s some guy who argues with you about where you’re going when you die.

The common thread between the salesmen and the evangelists is this:  In the end, we don’t really feel like they care about us.  Somehow, somewhere, their agenda seems to lie in them getting something out of us which benefits them.  Much of the time, unfortunately, that’s absolutely true.

Before we continue, let’s look at the word evangelist.  I think it’s important, anytime you discuss something, to actually know a little about the subject.  Otherwise we’re no better than the anti/pro-gun activists, each spewing false statistics to push their agenda.

Evangelist.  It come’s from the ancient Greek word evangelion, which means good news.

I’ve got good news!  It’s a 1983 Honda Civic, with only 300’000 miles… just $8500!

Evangelion (good news) was proclaimed throughout the kingdom when a new king ascended to the throne, or that an heir was born.  That’s exactly what evangelism really is, it’s the spreading of good news.  That good news is that the kingdom of God is crashing into earth, and what’s more, we get to be a part of it.  Why?  Because the king of everything came down to our level, took the punishment which kept us out of the kingdom, and now we can be the king’s friends—even better, the king’s sons and daughters with all the rights and privileges.  If that’s true, that’s good news.

Somehow things got a little off track though, wouldn’t you agree?

An evangelist can’t evangelize (share the good news), unless he’s doing just that, right?

But I still maintain that evangelists really are like salesmen.  But let me explain this.

You see, there are a number of ways to pay salesmen.  Two major ways are:

  1. Commission
  2. Salary

I know it took some time in getting there, but I want to propose to you that an evangelist is not like a commission based salesman, but like a salaried salesman.

The difference:

If you get paid on commission, your rewards come from your performance.  You eat based on how well you sell.  If you sell well, you get to live in a nice house, eat expensive foods and wear expensive clothing.  Commission based sales can be very lucrative if you’re good at it.  Commissioned salesmen are some of the most aggressive, because they know that if they sell a lot, they get a lot.

If you get paid on salary, your rewards are independent of performance.  Technically, all you have to do is show up.  Most often salaried salesman are the type who work at the mall (I would know).  What’s there to motivate you to sell when you’re having a bad day?  Not much, really.  The only real reason a salaried salesman has to put effort into selling, is because he believes in what he’s selling.

Examples from my life:

When I was in college I worked for the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  It’s a Forrest Gump themed restaurant where servers entertain tourists, like seals balancing beach balls on their noses, while selling overpriced seafood.  The name of the game at Bubba Gump’s (and many other restaurants I might add) is check building.  Sell as many things as you possibly can.  Sell them a drink, then an appetizer, then a salad, etc.  Why would a server do that?  Because at the time we only made $2.13 an hour.  We lived off our customer’s tips.  The bigger the bill, the higher the tips.  I hated that job (not everyone did, in fact in many ways it was a great job).  I hated it because I knew that if I got the right kind of sucker at one of my tables, I could sucker him into buying just about anything.  I would come home feeling horrible, knowing the person would have never bought all the junk they bought if I hadn’t pushed it on them.  I didn’t hate the job as much as I hated sales, because I knew I would do shady things to make more money.

Sound like evangelism?  If so, I’m really sorry.

After I had been out of college for a year or so, I got a job as a sales associate at a Quiksilver store.  I didn’t make jack working for them, but I found something out:  I don’t hate sales.  I hate commissioned sales.  You see, at Quiksilver it didn’t matter whether the store was slow or fast, I still made money.  More than that, I love surfing, and we made some terrific surfing products that I actually used.  I loved helping people find what they wanted.  I was notorious for selling a certain type of board short that prevented rash.  I could tell them from personal experience: Good News!  Board rash has been conquered!  You can surf for hours without pain!  People would leave happy, willing to pay the price of the shorts.  I would be happy they got something that would help them.


Too many evangelists think that the more people they convince to pray a prayer, the more God will love them… or maybe, they’ll get more crowns in heaven or something.  You see, they’re still earning their wages.  The better they perform, the more they’re loved.  It’s a shame really.

This is what Sitting in the Catbird Seat means to an evangelist:

You’ve already got your salary paid.  In fact, you couldn’t be paid better.  Ephesians 2 says that we have been seated with Christ in the heavenly realms… before we’ve done anything at all, he seated us next to him (by the way, all authority is under his feet and we’re next to him, not below him, so it’s under ours too).  Obviously, our position has nothing to do with our performance.  The good news, you get to be a son or daughter of God.  Your inheritance is secure.  You don’t get any more love from your Daddy based on your performance.  So if you take the commission payments out of your reason for evangelizing, you really just get the privilege of sharing good news with people… the king has come and they too can be sons and daughters of the king.  So, it’s kind of like working for Quiksilver and helping people find what they want… just the salary is much better!

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 20, 2013 02:40

    Excellent post and great to be reminded that we are already seated with Christ in the heavenly realms so sharing the good news is a privilege we get to do rather than a performance we have to do 🙂

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