What Happens When Evangelism is Really Helpful for Business?
The New Testament church has a lot to offer to the world. The greatest message we have deals with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, it has become amazing how the business community has come to believe that some of the terminologies of the Christian church are very applicable to their “mission.” Even the word “mission originated from the early history of the church.
As I was surfing the internet, recently I was amazed at how often I was finding the word “evangelism” being used by businesses and business leadership. Here are a few examples.
- “Business leaders will be evangelists of the 21st century.” (Larry James, president and CEO of Central Dallas Ministries, www.faithandleadership.com)
- “The word “evangelism” is the philosophy that will facilitate customers in changing their business into success stories; I think this philosophy aspect is more important than anything else in any business.” (Social Business Evangelism, September 22, 2009, by Nikhil Nulkar)
- “Brand Evangelism is the difference between consumers following and consumers leading. Some consumers act as though they “own” their favorite brands, finding it first nature to defend and promote the reputation of their brands. The difference between brand evangelism and “word of mouth marketing,” is that the former is based on identity rather than just interaction….Some of the most important breakthroughs in brand evangelism are the successful and sustainable creation of shared devotion, sense of purpose, and a clear and urgent call to action.” (Bloomberg.com, “Brand Evangelism)
- “While it is tempting to get caught up in pursuit of fake gold awards to hang on the mantle, we need to always remember that we’re being paid to create connection between people and brands—whether it is building awareness for a new product or cultivating evangelism for an established brand…we must never lose sight of the fact that we are truly in the “people” business.” (Curt Hanke “What You Won’t Learn in Ad School”)
- “Company evangelism is reaching new heights as more entrepreneurs place staff members in this important role – or take it on themselves. Individuals in the new role of “Company evangelist” are reinventing what was once thought of as PR, with the principal goal of building a community of customers who are passionate about the company’s products and services.” (“Become a Business Evangelist”)
In an article entitled “Business Evangelism 101,” Richard Hoffman refers to Andrew Scibelli as a “business evangelist.” Scibelli is a fervent leader and teacher at Springfield Technical Community College. In this article, Larry Humes, an acquaintance of Sciebelli, says that this teacher has a strong evangelistic approach to his teaching in business leadership. Humes says, “He’s like John the Baptist.” For those who are not familiar with John the Baptist, he was one of the greatest “evangelists” of New Testament history.
The term “evangelism” is reaching new heights as more entrepreneurs place staff members in this role. Some business owners are taking on the role of “business evangelist” themselves. Individuals in the new role of “company evangelist” are reinventing what was once thought of as a Public Relations. The overall goal of the company with an “evangelist” is to build the “community” they are trying to reach. If you are a Christian this should sound familiar. The goal of evangelism for the New Testament church was to build the “community of believers.” For businesses the principal goal is building a community of customers who are passionate about the company’s products and services.
Many business leaders say that “evangelism” is all about one’s passion and purpose for the company. There is no doubt that when a leader has an evangelistic character they are contagious. This personality, if channeled properly, can lead a company to grow and expand in a productive and healthy manner. The church has known this for centuries.
Kim Gordon says there are three tips to spread the good word of any company through organizational evangelism.
- Get customers fired up.
- Listen to your community.
- Create more evangelists. 1
Kim goes on to say, “Everyone in your company has the power to spread the good word about your business. The key is to have them all focus on a unified, motivational message. Create a one-paragraph, 30-seconds-or-less positioning statement built around your core passion or cause, and share it with all employees. Be sure they understand your company’s mission and why it matters to customers. And whether they’re at the mall or the gym, when someone asks them what they do, each of them can become company evangelists by spreading the right message.”2
The tragedy concerning “evangelism” today is that the business world is taking over a philosophy that once belonged to the Church. Dr. Chuck Lawless, Dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky say that the average congregation has forgotten what “evangelism” is all about.
- Evangelism in many churches is about believers responding to a guest who first visited the church rather than their proactively sharing Christ. If the non-believer (whom we may not know personally) makes the first move, we are then ready to respond with the gospel.
- Evangelism is sometimes reduced to “invite others to church, where someone else (the preacher) will tell them about Jesus” — and even then more corporately than individually. In that case, nobody does personal evangelism.
- In some congregations, evangelizing takes place more on the international mission field — as essential as that task is — than in a church member’s neighborhood. The same believer who travels overseas to speak of Christ through a translator often leapfrogs his own unbelieving neighbors who speak the same language.
- Despite the New Testament emphasis on laity, many churches still relegate evangelism to hired clergy. As one church member told me, “We pay them to do that because they’re the ones trained for it.” Personal involvement in evangelism is thus equated with putting a check in the offering plate on Sunday. (“E-Mail and Evangelism”, Blog by Dr. Chuck, Lawless)
Some churches have forgotten the purpose of “evangelism” while at the same time many businesses are taking over the word. Businesses are discovering that “personal evangelism” is the key for the companies success. The days of putting out mass mailings, impersonal commercials, and using a “hands-off” philosophy are not working for businesses. A personal encounter is absolutely needed for success. This is one of the reasons that Facebook and Twitter are thriving. People are desiring a personal connection.
Evangelism is a powerful tool. The business world has discovered it and has no problem using the term. It would be extremely sad if the church that originated the term ceases to use it!
- Kim T. Gordon is one of the country’s leading experts on the small-business market. Over the past 30 years as an author, marketing expert, media spokesperson, speaker and coach, her work has helped millions of small-business owners increase their success. For over a decade, Kim’s Entrepreneur magazine columns and online columns, have appeared regularly on Yahoo Small Business, MSNBC, AOL.
- Kim T. Gordon