I saw a video the other day that explained one of the reasons I’m such a terrible salesman and marketer. I suspect it will be life-changing for me. It talked about products or ideas and the what, how, and why of those ideas.
He drew this illustration. (This is my drawing, not his, so don’t blame him for the chicken scratch writing.)
He said most companies begin with “what,” and they may explain “how,” but they never get to “why.” Then he said people don’t buy what you have to sell. They buy what you believe. It is most important, he said, to tell them “why” you believe what you believe, not what you want your audience to receive.
I can’t really explain why that “clicked” for me.
I’ve always been told that I need to know who my audience is when I write. I’ve also been told that I need to write in such a way that my readers know what’s in it for them rather than just what I want to tell them. It’s about the reader, not about me.
I’ve never been able to get that. I kept thinking, “My audience is anyone who will listen to me. The message I have is important. How do I narrow that down?” I thought, “What does the reader get? The reader gets what I’m talking about. Usually, I’m talking about the church, about church life, and about the truth the apostles handed down to the church. I’m talking about preserving that truth. What could be more important than that?”
Somehow, I realized that because I’m stuck on “what” and my readers often don’t understand “why” I’m saying what I’m saying. As a result, they don’t really even understand “what” I’m saying. I’m rambling all over the landscape, talking about all sorts of things to them. To me, however, I’m always talking about one thing …
The Gospel as it was given by King Jesus to the apostles, and then by the apostles to the church.
The ramifications of pursuing that Gospel are phenomenal because we have lost so much of it.
Yes, we are doing good things. Yes, people are getting saved. Yes, there are some phenomenal, powerful Christians and churches in our day.
Yet, just because those things are true, do we really want to ignore the fact that 60% of Americans who think they are Christians admit they are either static or backsliding in their spiritual life? Do we really want to ignore the fact that the world sees Christianity as representing the height of division when Jesus said that our unity is what would prove he is the Son of God? (Jn. 17:20-23). Do we really want to ignore the fact that 90% or so of those who make a profession of faith, walk the aisle, or pray a sinner’s prayer are going to fall away? Do we really want to ignore the fact that most of our pastors have no close friends and that many need counseling as a result?
I could go on and on, but one primary issue that touches me is that God has promised to set the solitary in families, and we usually offer to set them in an audience. In best case scenarios, one person follows up on them in a mentor capacity.
When I write such things, I am not complaining. I am making a case for returning to the faith once delivered to the saints. It addresses every one of those problems without directly addressing any of them. Return to the faith the apostles preached, the Gospel that was lived out in their churches, and every one of those problems I just listed will disappear like a thick fog burned away by the sun.
We would have new problems instead. The kind of problems Paul, Peter, James, and John wrote about in their letters. The apostles writings would come alive to us because we would be reading them in the same environment they wrote them in.
The last thing the man in the video said was that our audience is the people who believe what we believe.
I believe that there is nothing greater than to continue daily in the apostles’ teaching, the breaking of bread, prayers, and fellowship. I believe there is nothing greater than sharing all things and being part of God’s family, headed up by King Jesus, love pouring down from heaven as the perfect bond of unity, and being taught together by the Lord God himself.
Everything I write is toward that purpose. To that I am willing to commit myself.
And if I am alive from the dead, living a second chance of life after recovery from a normally fatal disease, then that is what I am alive for. I will fight to my last breath for the faith once delivered to the saints because it delivers to the saints all the promises of God.