I love the Mosey Down Main Street! It’s an incredible, family friendly community gathering featuring great music, entertainment, community organization booths, local artisan booths, tasty food, amazing beverages, and so much more! It’s fun to slowly walk up and down Main Street, visiting booths, listening to music, people watching, and enjoying the foods and beverages. I always bump into friends, acquaintances, and my favorite local business owner (who generally greets me with, “Hey Pastor, how’s it going?”).
This evening, in addition to running into friends, acquaintances, and my favorite local business owner, I ran into some pushy Christians.
Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m all for Christians. I am one. I love me some Jesus, but, I’ve got to be honest…Christians can be some of the most annoying people EVER!
Before I get too far into this, I will say, I ran into a number of Christian folk who seem to understand how to behave in public and still be a faithful witness for Christ. These pushy Christians, however, are just annoying.
Here’s how it all unfolded: The girls wanted to stop at a particular booth that I noticed was run by a particularly conservative church in town. I really didn’t want to stop, but when your two little girls want to stop, you stop. While the girls browsed the booth with their mother, I stood off to the side, dreaming of those sweet LBC Mosey cups. One of the booth workers came over and attempted to peddle some of their goods. I politely indicated that I was not interested. The person continued to try and convince me that I needed to buy what they were selling. Again, I politely indicated that I was not interested. A third time, the person tried to convince me that I needed what she was selling, but ended her pitch with, “no pressure though.” I again politely indicated that I was not interested. Let us remember, my mouth was watering for one of those sweet LBC Mosey cups.
Then came the moment where I simply got pissed off. The worker attempted to guilt me into buying some of their products that I had already indicated I was not interested in. “All of our proceeds go to help our food pantry. I know it might not seem like much, but $5 goes a long way to feed hungry people. Most people don’t know it, but a dollar is more than nothing.”
Here’s what sarcastically went through my head at that time: “No crap? A dollar is more than nothing? That’s brilliant. I’d never thought of it that way before. You have opened my eyes. Of course I’ll take some of your puppy chow, coffee and Mt. Dew. I mean, this is the Mosey and I came here for street food and whatever beverages they are pushing at the LBC. But, now I’ve seen the light. Not only do I no longer desire street food and LBC beverages, I want to gluttonously indulge in your puppy chow, Mt. Dew, and awful coffee. Thanks!”
Now, the cause is truly noble. But, the approach was off-putting.
I was annoyed. All I could think was, “Freaking pushy Christians. You’re giving us all a bad name. The Pride Lafayette booth is right across from you. I want to go hang out with them because they are cool and won’t try and push me or guilt me into purchasing their goods. They’ll just share love and good vibes and wish me well. You probably haven’t even interacted with them, at least not on a positive note. But, no, I’m with you…you try to make me feel guilty. Is that the only way you can convince me to buy your crappy product? To guilt me? To make me feel like by saying that I’m not interested in your crap is to say that I don’t want to help feed hungry people? Give me a break.”
My guess is that the evangelistic efforts of these pushy Christians are very similar to their pushy sales techniques. And, that’s part of the problem the church faces today. We are so focused on the “sell” that we overlook the customer.
Therefore, I’d like to say some things to pushy Christians…
1. Stop it! If someone politely (or not so politely) indicates they are not interested in whatever you are selling, respect that.
2. Be respectful. Again, if someone politely (or not so politely) indicates they are not interested in whatever you are selling, respect that. What if I were a diabetic and that’s why I was politely turning down your goods? Or, say you were trying to share Jesus with me and I was already a Christian? You are so focused on the sell that you don’t take the person into consideration.
3. Listen. At one point, I indicated that I’m all about feeding hungry people. I even tried to talk about our support of food pantries and Kids Against Hunger. But, the person simply wasn’t listening. I knew she wasn’t listening because she kept going back to her product.
4. Build relationships. Instead of being so focused on selling your goods, try and actually see as much value in the person as you do the product.
5. Don’t use pressure or guilt. Look at me…I don’t need puppy chow or Mt. Dew. I need a salad. But, because of your relentless tactics, I may have given in and made a horrible decision for my health. Say you were attempting to “sell Jesus”, what would you have given me to sustain that relationship? Would you have just chalked me up as a success? Would you have connected me with others on the journey? Or would you just leave me to figure it out for myself?
So, pushy Christians, while the cause is extremely noble…whether selling puppy chow or Jesus…the tactic of the sell is crucial. Less pressure, more love.