The Good Parts

The Good Parts

by Phil Baker

I just finished reading William Goldman’s “The Princess Bride”, the book on which the classic movie is based. (SPOILER ALERT: We may be showing it this summer at Movies by Moonlight) I often like to visit the source material for movies. Not so much to compare them, but to get additional information on the characters, story or just to absorb more of that world. The premise of “The Princess Bride” is that a father had it read to him as a child. But as an adult about to read it to his own son, he discovers that his father was editing the book to leave out the boring parts to hold his attention with just “the good parts” – pirates, sword fights, R.O.U.S.’s. Thus the book often carries the subtitle “The ‘good parts’ version”.

the_princess_bride_first_edition

Throughout the book, Goldman comments on parts he edited out like Buttercup’s elaborate wedding preparations, her day-to-day training to be a princess, or whole chapters on the turbulent history of the feuding countries of Florin and Gilder. This is all done with the same tongue-in-cheek comedy as the movie.

The Bible has some good parts as well. We like to read those over and over. We memorize them. We quote them. We embroider them on accent pillows. This is all well and good. But the Bible also has some bad part. Parts we don’t like to read so we forget about them. They are often long histories, lists of rules, or prophetic warnings. I think I’m safe in saying this is the bulk of The Old Testament. But there’s value in the bad parts. There’s context. It’s exposition. We can’t fully appreciate the redemption in The New Testament until we fully grasp the repeated mistakes in The Old Testament. This is why I’m grateful when Pastor Brock preaches from The Old Testament. It forces me to go there, to live in and think about the perennial sin of the Israelites. Because it’s then that I realize I’m just like them. I constantly move toward God, then fall back into old patterns. One step forward, two steps back. I like editing out the bad parts of my life and just presenting God with the good parts.

We can’t always just live in the good parts. It’s healthy to visit the bad parts as well. We have to take the Bible as a whole.

“A church that preaches the Bible” seems to be what everybody is looking for. This kinda makes me laugh because every church will claim to preach the Bible. I think what people mean is they want a church that preaches the WHOLE Bible. But do they really? Do they want “the bad parts”? Or do they want just the lovey-dovey, ‘Jesus loves you’ message?

Pick a part of the Bible you’re least familiar with – maybe a minor prophet. Take the next few days, week or month and study it in your quiet time with God. Ask Him to walk with you through “the bad parts” so that you can also enjoy “the good parts”.

How To Talk To People About Your Church

by Phil Baker

Revive does a number of community outreach efforts. We have a table at the farmers’ market. We direct parking at the 4th of July event. We even have free outdoor movies! But while these efforts have been good intentioned, they haven’t bore much fruit in the form of getting people in our doors.

The problem is we rely too much on passive marketing to do the work – brochures, our web site, and branded t-shirts. We need to utilize active engagement to promote our church. This means actually talking to people face-to-face and letting them see and hear us, the church, for who we are. It’s not enough to put on an event or be present.

In my vocation I’ve spent a lot of time doing sales pitches on the phone or at conferences. I’ve learned a thing or two about talking to people. So I thought I’d share what I’ve learned to help you talk to others about your church.

 

Don’t be scripted

We’ve all had calls from telemarketers or a customer service rep from our credit card company. And I’m sure you can tell they’re reading from a computer screen. Their “How are you today?” doesn’t seem that sincere. Most people are savvy. They can see a sales pitch coming a mile away. And they can tell when you’re regurgitating company jargon or industry buzz words. So rely on your own words, your own way of speaking. Just talk about what you like about Revive and what you think they will like as well.

Be honest

Look, Revive church isn’t perfect. Nobody’s church is. So don’t misrepresent it or yourself by overselling it. Nor do you have to lay out all Revive’s shortcomings. That wouldn’t speak very highly of your church or the leadership. Instead highlight your church’s strengths. Share some things God has taught you recently through Pastor Brock, your Bible Fellowship class, Connection Group or some other church resource. Share how our worship service helps you experience God. Brag on our children’s program. Share what’s important to you.

Make the ask

This conversation can’t be a one way street. It took me a while to learn to stop every now and then and let the other person talk. So ask questions. Do they attend another church? What do they look for in a church?

The most important question I ask as a salesman is if “Would you like to buy?” This wasn’t always how I phrased it but, as a salesman, you always had to remember to verbally ask the customer if they would like to move forward. A cliché in the sales industry is ABC – Always Be Closing. How will you know if they want or don’t want your product if you don’t ask? So make the ask. Would they like to visit one Sunday? Would they prefer to try out a Connection Group first? Can you give them your number and/or email if they have any questions? Do whatever you feel comfortable doing to make sure you’ve given them every opportunity to tell you “Yes”, “No” or “Maybe later”.

Don’t take rejection personally

Generally speaking, only 1 out of every 10 encounters will lead to a sale. That means you will be told “No” 9 times before you get a “Yes”. This can quickly erode your morale. It definitely depressed me when I was away from home at a conference getting “no” after “no” after “no”. I had to keep in mind that their rejection wasn’t of me but of the product or company. Many times I felt I really connected with a person. Yet the product or service I was pitching simply wasn’t right for them.

Revive church isn’t going to be for everybody. Nor are we trying to steal sheep from another church. So don’t let it take the wind out of your sails when someone shuts you down or tells you they aren’t interested. Many people don’t want to make a commitment on the spot. Give them the grace to walk away in the hope that your encounter will bear fruit later.

Plant, water or reap

In all of Revive’s outreach efforts, we try to remember that our purpose is three-fold – promote the church, represent the Church and spread the gospel. This means we are there to promote our local church body, we are there to represent the greater Church body as servants to our local community, and we are available to share Jesus with anyone who is receptive.

In all 3 of these instances we have to remember that we can be either planters, waterers or reapers. Sometimes we’re just planting seeds that need time to mature. Sometimes we’re just providing water to already planted seeds that need more conversation, guidance or prayer to grow to the next level. And sometimes we get the joy of reaping what someone else planted and watered. Rarely do we get to do all 3. Be patient.

 

Show up for your Revive’s next outreach event and be prepared to approach someone about your church. You don’t have to be trained in the technical aspect of the event. Or just be relegated to setting up tables and chairs. Kingdom work is so much more than that. Use these tips to make your conversations natural, genuine and fruitful. Each person you encounter will be a little more informed about your church. Your church will now have a face attached to it. It will be more real in your community.