You’ve met them, or maybe, like me, you’ve been one.  We smile and carry brochures.  Some drive limited edition vehicles that tout their sales excellence. They share pictures of amazing trips they’ve earned to entice you to become part of their tier.

They are passionate about and believe in, their product.  They are smooth and well trained. They are the direct marketing, sales force.  A force to be reckoned with.  They have the personal sales thing down pat. It doesn’t matter whether it’s health saving juices, vitamins, life style products or basketry- they have a product and a business opportunity to sell you, and they WILL sell it .   I know, because I was one.  Almost.  I say ALMOST, because, I was awful.  I loved the parties and the people, not so much the sales or the tiers…

Things I learned the hard way, from Direct Marketing:

1) I stink at it. (The show part I was good at, that was fun- I love people! The actual sales? Not so much)

2) People know when you are connecting with them for the purpose of selling them something, they mostly hate it, they feel used.  If they like the product- they may buy- but the relationship, will most likey, suffer.

At the (fairly low) height of my direct sales experience, I remember seeing “that look” come over people’s faces, when they saw me coming.  I had ceased to be “Tracey” and had become “The pusher”.  Their eyes darted- looking for an out. They looked for anyone to suddenly become engrossed in a conversation with, to avoid talking to me. The song, that played passionately, in my one track mind, must have been written all over my face like a lyrics book.  It went something like this: “I have something YOU need.  How about we talk and I tell you all about it?”   Let’s just say, I eventually quit.  It wasn’t for me.  I could never figure out how to sell through relationships, without damaging them. I’ve met people who can- but they are a rare breed.

Lately, I’ve noticed, that when I bring up my faith in new relationships- people initially respond like I’m a direct marketing sales rep for Jesus.  Their eyes dart, looking for an out.  Some, physically tense up and brace for the “sales pitch”.    There isn’t one coming.  Sharing my faith isn’t a tiered marketing program.  I do not carry Jesus brochures and church- for me- is not a sales meeting.  I don’t go to sharpen my sales pitch and build up excitement to go out there and:  SELL.

Faith is NOT a pyramid scheme that ends with me, sitting next to Jesus, at a sales banquet in heaven, having driven up in a golden escalade (although all three of my boys would fit in the backseat without injury) with a bumper sticker that says: “Jesus loves me” ( a little more than you. Cause I met my quota)

For me- faith is part of the journey and adventure that is my life.  I believe in sharing our journeys, the good the bad, the funny and the ugly.  It’s part of who I am, when I meet people- I want to get to know them, and I want them to know me.  Not to sell them anything-or to network for a new sales pipeline, but because I just plain, love people.  I believe, each one is uniquely designed and created by the master artist- God. It’s not my job to critique, sell or retouch a DaVinci, but to enjoy and appreciate it- even to love it.  I see and treat people the same way.

After a few meetings where people reacted shell shocked at the mention of my faith…I started to wonder if I had been applying the direct sales approach to sharing my faith, without even knowing it.  Maybe, I was. Or maybe, people have Post Traumatic Evangelism Disorder.  It’s not in the DSMV- but is a common disorder rooted in a traumatic experience of meeting someone carrying Jesus brochures and giving the hard sell. It’s symptoms are: darting eyes looking for escape when faith is mentioned… and reacting like a bomb was dropped two feet from them, when you mention Jesus.

Funny- people didn’t seem to react to JESUS that way– just his followers.

I think Christians have lost something somewhere along the way- I think maybe it was when we started trying to market our faith.  Maybe it was when we made the slick brochures, training DVDS, learned fancy sales pitches and learned to target our market.   Maybe in focusing on the art of marketing Jesus, we lost the art of loving people, like he does.

I doubt people want to be “sold” Jesus any more than I want to be sold miracle vitamins.  The problem isn’t with the materials and training- the problem is in making the “sale” more important than people.

Maybe we need to give up the  direct marketing approach to evangelism and get back to loving people, I know I have.  I may never drive that Golden Escalade… but somehow?  I think God likes it better when I love the people he’s created.