Monday, December 28, 2009

You'll Catch More Flies with Honey than With Vinegar

I heard this phrase once while doing a youth lesson with some boys in my youth program. I probably heard it before that, but it's one of those sayings that has stuck since then and I find myself using it a lot--even with my daughter at home. You don't have to be a rocket surgeon to figure out what it means but here's my loose translation--"You'll get more of what you want out of life by being nice, than by being mean, belligerent, annoying, etc." Well, since I work in the field of ministry, you would think that would go without saying for the people and companies I deal with on a regular basis.

There is a particular company that I've had dealings with over the majority of my ten-year stint as a youth minister. The first time I dealt with them, I got a phone call and they were up front that they were a Christian publishing house and had just created a new curriculum they would like for me to preview. I agreed to preview it and send it back if I didn't want to keep it and pay for it if I did. Well, I forget if I actually kept that study or not, but I'm pretty sure I sent it back. Well, about every three months or so, I would get another call from the same company wanting me to preview another study course. I eventually became good at finding new ways not to talk to their representatives or to politely, but firmly, hang up the phone when I did find myself with one of their fishhooks in my lip!

Fast forward about 4 years. After a two-year sabbatical from youth ministry and starting over at a new church, I got a phone call from the same company (not at the church office, but on my cell phone!) telling me about a new study they had. I told them that was great. A week later I got a packet from them in my office asking me to preview it. I didn't even realize I had agreed to anything! Two years after that, I'm still getting phone calls from the same people. This morning, I asked our church secretary to screen a call that I suspected might be fishy. Well, she got dooped and there I was picking up line 1 to talk to these sneaky envoys of Christian truth. Having tasted that lure before, I spit it out before the representative had time to set the hook!

So, here is the focus of today's blog post. Should Christian companies limit their marketing strategies to methods that are less invasive? While there is nothing sinful about asking someone to check something out then send it back if you don't want it, it's really annoying after about the fourth or fifth time you've done it. Also, there is a lot of deception that is used to try to get through to someone and then try to get them to do something without them realizing they are doing it or to push their comfort zone when they try to refuse something. I am to the point that I don't care if this company has the most effective, biblically-sound, life-changing study course known to humanity--I AM NOT INTERESTED! While they obviously put a lot of thought and time into their resources, why can't they market them through Group or Youth Specialties. So my question to those of you in youth ministry or other areas of church work, do you agree with me? At what point does a "Christian" company cross lines to try to get their product out there?

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