I have a confession to make: I used to be that guy who would knock on your door hawking educational books for your kids.
Please don’t judge me. It was a reputable company with quality products and top-notch training. I would check in with local police and town halls and get any necessary permits. In 3 summers I knocked on nearly 10,000 doors and gave about 3,000 presentations in people’s living rooms, kitchens, and front porches. And by God’s grace, my wife and I have no school loans because of it.
While it’s not for everybody, it’s a job that taught me some life lessons. And even though I knocked on my last door nearly seven years ago, not a day goes by where I don’t recall the hard-earned lessons I learned on “the bookfield”. And these lessons have a canny ability to broadly reach every category in life, including ministry to children.
Furthermore, I want to say up front that I don’t believe spreading the Gospel is a form of sales (it shouldn’t be). There are simply things we can learn from sales (like from any industry) that help us in ministering the Gospel.
Here are 4 of the many things I learned…..
1. Get the Whole Family at the Kitchen Table
I remember sitting at a family’s kitchen table in little Titusville, PA on a warm summer night in 2003. I sat down with my samples at the circular table and gathered Mom, Dad, son, and daughter all around to see what I had. I had many presentations before this one that just didn’t work, but there was something amazing about this one, because the WHOLE family was there at the same time. They liked what they saw, I had all their focused attention, and they were able to make an informed decision together as a family. They became customers.
In Children’s Ministry, get the WHOLE family around the table. Create opportunities for families to worship, grow, play, and come to faith together.
2. Face-to-Face Contact is Always Superior
Our door-to-door company never bought ads in papers, put up billboards, made phone calls, sent out advertising mailers, or any other form of advertising other than face-to-face cold-calling. Why? Because face-to-face contact is the most superior form of communication with other human beings.
In Children’s Ministry, we don’t have to cold-call people’s doors at 10am on a weekday, but we need to remember that if there is something important and meaningful you need to discuss with one of your volunteers or parents, try to get coffee in person rather than covering important stuff in a text.
3. It’s a Numbers Game
I quickly learned that sales in not about persuasion. It’s about working the numbers. My product was not for everybody. My job was to find the people it was for, and that took running through a lot of “no’s” to get to a “yes”.
In Children’s Ministry, the Gospel is indeed a message for the whole world to hear, but unfortunately not everyone is going to respond positively. Our job is to cast the net and draw in as many fish as God leads. Our persuasive words will not save anyone. Our job is to get the message to everyone and every nation and then God will lead those whom He will lead to His Gospel.
4. God is my Rock
Similar to the previous point, this job taught me more than any other job I’ve had to completely rely on Him for strength, providence, and sustenance. Why? Because you face a lot of adversity and rejection when you cold-call door-to-door. It was tough, but it forced me to look to God every moment of every day. I found myself praying, singing, praising, and talking with God all through the day because that was the only way I could make it out a sane person. My identity was found in Christ, not in what other people thought of me. In ministry, I know that my calling and identity are found in Him, not in what the world thinks of me.