Feb 082015 1 Response

Stop Evangelizing in Starbucks

Maybe it only happens in the south, but in my hometown it is nearly impossible to sit in Starbucks or any other coffee shop without hearing the same conversation:

“It has radically changed my life.”

“I was depressed, couldn’t figure out what to do next, when suddenly it happened.”

“I prayed for just the right person for me to share this with.”

“I tried to go to sleep and you just kept coming to my mind.”

“I truly believe God has laid you on my heart.” (See: A Dangerous Assumption About God’s Will)

As a pastor, I’m comfortable with all of these terms. The first few times I heard this typical conversation taking place in the coffee shop, I prayed for the person speaking, the one listening, and thanked God for the boldness of the individual to share so openly about their faith.

But when it came time to deliver the meat of the conversation, I was disappointed. And I’ve been disappointed with every conversation since.

Go to any coffee shop and you will hear three-quarters of a good gospel presentation. One person will show genuine concern for another, tell how their life has been changed, and then give the other person an opportunity to have the same experience they have had. Yet the opportunity they are sharing is not the gospel, it is the latest business plan with maximum growth potential.

I’m not anti-business. I love business and I appreciate Christian women and men doing business in a way that honors God and helps society. I encourage growth and expansion with companies and pray for the success of others.

However, as a pastor I have a deep concern for the gospel and I wonder if many modern evangelicals have exchanged God’s command to share the gospel with a personal opportunity to share a business concept.

While we rightly are on the lookout for other people and seek to assist them in their lives, we have sadly come to the wrong conclusion about what can best help those we love.

So we evangelize our business but remain quiet about the gospel.

We mention God, but only as a passive aggressive sales pitch to convince others to help us push a product.

It’s a tragic exchange. (See: Three Lies Christians Tell Themselves)

I’m not suggesting that Christians should hesitate to engage in peer-to-peer marketing or sales. But I am suggesting we make three major changes regarding our relationship with business, the gospel, and our friends.

1. We should spend the bulk of our prayer and thought life thinking of who needs the gospel, not who can be our partner in business. It’s common for questions of strategy to keep us up at night. Whenever we are trying to figure something out, we pray a lot and think a lot. While it’s appropriate to spend time thinking about business strategy, a Christian should spend more time thinking about Kingdom strategy. If we truly believe the gospel is good news to a lost and dying world, we should spend considerable time thinking of who might be the most open to hearing its message. God has given us relationships and opportunities no one else has and we should ask for his guidance in how to best steward those resources. The next time someone comes to mind for business reasons, think about that same person within the context of God’s kingdom. (See: A True Picture of Justice and Grace)

2. We should have the courage to arrange and have serious conversations about faith with those who are around us. It’s funny how many people can’t imagine having the courage to talk to another person about faith, but we have no problem telling everyone around us about the greatness of a new restaurant, a technological gadget, or a new website. The fact is, we naturally tell others about the things we love and what has made a difference in our lives. I’m not saying it is always easy, but I am saying we have the ability to be obedient to what God has called us to do.

3. We should refrain from using God as a sales pitch regarding business opportunities. Here is a simple rule: if you are asking someone to do something for you that will be primarily for your benefit, do not use God’s name until they have made their decision. Saying, “God brought you to my mind” while they are deciding if a business decision is right for them is manipulative. If the decision is good, the value of the relationship and the business opportunity will make it good. If, after the relationship is determined, then it might be fair to say you thought God was leading you that direction, but you weren’t fully sure. (See: ‘God Called Me’ vs. ‘I Want To’)

God and business are not at odds. As a pastor, I am well aware of the need for Christian men and women to succeed in the business world. However, we must be careful that we do not subtly exchange God’s command to share his message with a far less important message of whatever the latest product or sales pitch might be.

It’s okay to ask your friends to join you in business, but it might be better to invite them into God’s kingdom first.

One Response to Stop Evangelizing in Starbucks
  1. […] What would the Church be like if Christians talked about Jesus like CrossFitters talked about CrossF... steven-hill.me/cf

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