"Pushing" the Gospel - Radiant

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"Pushing" the Gospel

Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg

Far Side - Push MarketingI just read an excellent article by a gentleman who has been in the marketing world for 20 years now. The article was a list of 10 things he wishes he knew before he started in marketing. Following is a quote from that article:

"Push" marketing is broken, because the customer is in control. Thanks to the Internet and Google, with just a few clicks, the customer can find hundreds of choices. And with social media sites to engage them, consumers have broken away from the old media that once held them captive. Anything you do to get their attention must add value in terms of what matters to them. Which usually means their jobs or personal needs, and not directly your products. Prospects will consider you less intrusive when you show them how to solve their problems. Even before the Internet, push marketing was dying, but Internet search engines have shoved it into the grave.

For those of you that aren't familiar with it, Wikipedia offers a couple of definitions for Push Marketing:

A push strategy in marketing is used when there has been a development or improvement on a new product which is unknown to the consumer. As there is no consumer demand in the product launch, the product and the information are "pushed" to the consumer by distribution and promotion. An example of this is a perfume product. Women do not request to smell a fragrance they never smelled before; it is simply "pushed" to them, through the advertisement. Due to the information asymmetry the producer tries by signaling to reduce the information gap between the consumer and the product. This is reached by promotion or other services like personal dialog.

Another meaning of the push strategy in marketing can be found in the communication between seller and buyer. In dependence of the used medium, the communication can be either interactive or non-interactive. For example, if the seller makes his promotion by television or radio, it's not possible for the buyer to interact with. On the other hand, if the communication is made by phone or internet, the buyer has possibilities to interact with the seller. In the first case information is just "pushed" toward the buyer, while in the second case it is possible for the buyer to demand the needed information according to his requirements.

...camp out there and make sure you understand those definitions and maybe even go back and re-read the first quote before you carry on reading...

What I love about the author's point in the section I copied above, is that he really captures the concept of the shift in thinking that the new marketing requires and I'm pretty convinced that at base, the truths about communication that he raises with a business context in mind, also apply to ministries – especially in the area of evangelism.

Perhaps instead of us “pushing” the message of Jesus Christ to the world, we should be doing some more listening and thinking about what other perspectives are out there. Starting from that vantage point, we would have a much better chance of communicating clearly. Of course, at the end of the day, everyone's needs are the same and the Gospel message doesn't change. But if we don't understand how others are thinking, then we won't have a hope in communicating with them on a level that makes sense.

I'm reminded of one of my favorite songs called Belief by John Mayer. The lyrics go like this:

Is there anyone who ever remembers
changing their mind from the paint on a sign?,
Is there anyone who really recalls
ever breaking rank at all
for something someone yelled real loud one time?
Oh, everyone believes
in how they think it oughta be
Oh, everyone believes
and they're not going easily

Belief is a beautiful armor
but makes for the heaviest sword
like punching underwater
you never can hit who you're trying for
Some lead the exhibition
and some have to know they tried
it's the chemical weapon
for the war that's raging on inside
Oh, everyone believes
from emptiness to everything
Oh, everyone believes
and no one's going quietly

We're never gonna win the world
We're never gonna stop the war
We're never gonna beat this
If belief is what we're fighting for

What puts a hundred thousand children in the sand?
Belief can, belief can
What puts a folded flag inside his mother's hand?
Belief can, belief can

Are we thinking about how to engage people that are in this mindset? Are we ready to stop “pushing” the gospel and start learning about the people we're reaching out to? It's the first step to communicating clearly and getting over the barriers that exist with the brand of “The Church” today.