Written Sermons & Bible Studies

Jesus as Evangelist Manager

Luke 10:8-12

“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets, and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you; it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

 

Have any of you ever been in sales? As Jesus sends out seventy evangelists too spread the news about the coming Kingdom of God, he is sending out a sales force to let the world know that the kingdom of God is near.

 

These past few weeks, we have been promoting the Spring Festival and marketing our church. We want visitors to come. We want people to know that Place of Grace Fellowship is a church where they can experience Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. To do that, we sell the church. We invite people to our church by word of mouth. That is the best form of marketing. Next, we try many other forms of marketing including events, advertising, website, reviews, FB, Instagram, etc. Being in a sales frame of mind, I was drawn to today’s passage.

 

I know all the sales managers’ bag of motivational tricks and ways of evaluating the salespeople. What fascinated me about today’s passage wasn’t that Jesus sent out the evangelists. I would expect Jesus to send people out as they became mature disciples. In a short time, the disciples would go into the world without Jesus. The disciples would need to spread the good news of a risen savior that offered eternal life, grace and love. Sales training would be a perfect next step in the development of disciples.

 

Normal sales training includes lead generation, or who do we need to reach? The salesperson would write a sales script and develop a pitch or sales story to grab people’s attention. They would learn how to close a sale.  

 

After training, the salespeople build sales funnels and try to keep the funnel full of prospects. They would have sales quotas to meet. Finally, the sales manager would evaluate their closing percentage.

 

In sales, the salespeople answer the manager for their closing rate.

 

In Luke’s Gospel story, there are no sales quotas, sales funnels, elevator pitches (or better–donkey pitches) or closing techniques. Jesus does not question the disciples about their effectiveness or conversion rates or strategies and techniques.  In fact, Jesus doesn’t challenge the disciples at all. The success of the sale rests completely on the town who hears the message and decides what to do with it.

 

Jesus tells the disciples not to pester the town until they buy. Instead, Jesus tells the disciples to leave the town and shake the dust off their feet.

 

Luke doesn’t tell us why one town says yes and another town no. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is at work behind the scenes preparing the hearts of some towns while other towns are under the influence of Satan.

 

I can tell you this, no sales manager today would tell their salespeople to walk away so soon after a sales attempt. They would say, “make 20 contacts before giving up on the sale.” “Keep trying.” “Work on your pitch and on your close.” While sales are often about the number of pitches you make and not the quality of the pitch, a sales manager would still encourage a salesperson to refine their pitch and have a plan to keep in front of the maybe client.

 

Luke 10:16 says.

“Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

 

Imagine you are in sales and your sales manager places none of the responsibility for the sale on you, but places all the responsibility of the sale on the client. It is the client who must listen to you and if they do not listen, they do not hear Jesus. It is like the Spirit of Christ speaks through us to others.

 

For example, we just hired a janitorial service. Why did we hire the service we did? Because the salesperson called me at least once a month to offer the company’s services. I never returned her voice mail. I answered the phone a few times. From the day I arrived here, I got at least one call a month from her. That is tenacity. If the company’s salespeople work that hard, then the company has a good work ethic and likely a good culture. It is why I selected the company. I made sure to tell the manager of the company about the diligence of his salesperson.

Jesus doesn’t award sales tenacity; he says move on and leave the town.

 

Jesus is unlike any sales manager I have ever met. Jesus offers no training. Jesus provides no sales script. Jesus suggests no closing structure. If the town listens to the disciples, Jesus says, “tell the town what you have seen and share the news of God’s coming Kingdom.” Jesus instructs the disciples to stay while the town will listen and accept their support. Once the disciples shared the message they were to move on. If the town ignored the disciples’ attempt to share the good news, the disciples left immediately and shook the dust from their feet. Strikingly Jesus doesn’t even have his disciples pray over the town. Jesus says just leave the town and shake the dust of the town off your feet, as if the dust is cursed.

 

There are modern sales strategies that Jesus does follow. In these strategies, it is a numbers game and sales are about talking to as many people as possible. In Jesus’ strategy, if the Holy Spirit prepares the town, then the town is worth the effort. If a town listens, talk. If a town refuses, go find a different town.

The more people the salesperson talks to the more sales they will make. By this strategy, the janitorial service should have just generated a new lead and given up on me. After all, it’s a numbers game and if I won’t buy, wasting time on me means a lower number of prospects and less sales.

 

For Jesus and for Paul, the stakes were high. The stakes were salvation, the kingdom of God and eternal life. These are high stakes. However, neither Jesus nor Paul tried to win over those who would not listen. If the Spirit didn’t prepare the town, both moved on and found people who would listen. We think many people listened to the early evangelists. Few people listened—even to the Disciples and Paul. Jesus had a following, but in the end, they crucified him. If we look at Jesus, the disciples or Paul, NO was the common answer they heard for their efforts. Christian communities were small, a minority, and under persecution.

 

That is an important realization for us. We often think that when we share our faith, people should listen and if they do not, then we think we are bad at evangelism. We wonder, could we have prayed more or sought discernment from the Spirit? Was the person ready to hear the good news? We often assess our ability to share our faith as lacking. Because we think we are lousy at sharing our faith, we think about not sharing our faith.

 

If the disciples or Paul were held to our hypothetical, they would have quit. Paul wasted his time talking to Gentiles. Certainly, the seventy that Jesus sent out were bad at their craft by our standards.

 

We often evaluate ourselves harshly. Stop looking at individual successes and see the group effort with the Holy Spirit and every other Christ follower.  We are not evaluated by sales managers. Jesus Christ evaluating us. Let’s follow his rules.

  1. Jesus never gave a negative sales review. It was always on the one who received the message and refused to listen.
  2. Move on. Do not badger or “work” the person. If they don’t listen, let them be. Change chairs and place your butt in a new chair near a person ready to listen.
  3. If we share with someone in our community, family, workplace or vicinity and they do not listen, stop sharing. Pick a different day. Pray them and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Let the Holy Spirit work. Share as much as you can. Share as often as you can. Your percentage of people who listen will not go up. The number of people who listen will go up. Work the numbers. Our skill as an evangelist does not matter. The Holy Spirit prepares the person, and the numbers win people for Christ.

 

Perhaps the kingdom version of the salesperson who called me every month is a committed prayer intervention on behalf of the person you want to reach.

The biggest Jesus principle: do not talk to someone who does not want to listen; do not worry about whether someone listens or not; and share the Good News as often as possible.

 

A friend of mine was stopped by a cop. He asked the cop why he stopped him when other drivers were passing him. The cop said: “Boy have you ever gone fishing? He said yes, “Do you ever catch all of the fish?”

 

Next, we have the most important principle of Jesus’ evangelism management. 

 

Luke 11:34-36

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body is also full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

 

Jesus, shocked people with his stories and parables. He used illustrations that were crazy. In one story, he talked about an arch enemy of a Jewish man who helped him after a vicious robbery. Enemies do not help enemies, but this man did. The unexpected nature of the story made it compelling.

 

We are drawn to contradictions because they are unexplained, and we want an explanation. When our expectations are not met, we search for a reason for the contradiction. Contradictions are powerful attention grabbers.

 

Society criticizes Christians for not living in harmony with others, loving our brothers and sisters, being in unity with members of Christ’s body.

 

The world notices Christians arguing or bickering, they notice because we violate our values of unity and love. We contradict our nature when we are in opposition to each other filled with condemnation and hate. The world notices because we fail our values of love and acceptance.

 

When we act without grace the world notices. We should extend grace. When our lives are filled with anxiety and regret, the world notices. We are supposed to be filled with peace. When we lack faith—the world notices. When we fear death or sin—the world notices. When our lives show no joy—the world notices.

 

Our world expects our lives to be filled with light. The world expects us to shed darkness and evil. Our light testifies to our faith.

 

Jesus told his disciples that it their light sold the coming Kingdom of God. It was the disciples’ light that delivered the message of salvation. If towns turned from the disciples’ light, then nothing could reach the town. The town’s darkness would not let the light in.

 

When does the world see our light? When our circumstances do not dim our light.

 

  • When we should be angry, extend grace and demonstrate love.
  • When our circumstances normally cause anxiety and stress, be at peace.
  • When our faith should be gone, believe anyway.
  • When our circumstances seem hopeless, have hope.
  • When life brings us no joy, have joy anyway.
  • When life brings us sadness, be filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit.
  • When we are alone, be filled with the presence of Christ.

 

Our light shines brightest to the world when it should be the dimmest. Despite our circumstances, when our eyes shine bright with the presence of Christ, the world notices.

 

These circumstantial contradictions are when our light shines the brightest.. A bright light leads to deep conversations and salvation. The Christian hypocrisies that the world sees contradict our faith and fill our eyes with darkness. Christians whose eyes show darkness led others to disillusionment and avoidance of conversations about Jesus Christ.

 

When Christ sent out the seventy, he knew it was the light they possessed that led to opportunities to share the coming kingdom. Without the light, nothing they shared mattered. With the brightness of their light, what they said could be heard.

 

To recap, if someone won’t listen, we should move on and shake the dust off our feet. Hold them up in prayer for the next opportunity to receive Christ. If someone won’t listen, save it for a different day. Ignore the pitch. Focus on the number of people we talk to about the Good News. Finally, it is all about the light of Christ in our lives. A perfect evangelism tract without light will yield little. Any evangelism tract with a glowing, Spirit filled life will often draw people to the grace of Christ.

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About Pastor Tim

Tim Holmes

Senior Pastor

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