Why?

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.)

why-drawing-10-2013

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.

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7 Responses to Why?

  1. Carolyn says:

    Yes, yes, and again yes. This is such a refreshing read. Thank you!

  2. paulfpavao says:

    I can’t believe you would judge me like this!

    Just kidding. This is really helpful criticism. Thank you.

  3. Jon says:

    My problem, Paul (and I write this from the perspective of a virtual friend and not just some internet randomer), is as follows.

    Who exactly do intend the primary audience of your blog and website to be? In other words, who are you aiming this at? Are you hoping that deceived unsaved Christians will read it and be convicted? If so then I hope you will not be offended by a slight criticism.

    I have found (please show me if I’m wrong) little direct application of what you teach about salvation etc. in your posts. In other words, there tend to be no instructions or pleas for repentance. Instead there is often just a long rant (maybe with a vague implication that you and RCV are doing it right) , then that’s it.

    I have found this on many, many places online. There are loads of folks out there who are obviously fed up with American Christianity, and they tot up rant after rant on blogs and websites, and link sermon after sermon about the ‘apostate church’ or ‘false Christians’ or ‘goats’ etc. With most of these though, there is no appeal in their message, no invitation or even a command, other than to maybe pray and hope God saves you. For example, I listened to a recent sermon by David Servant entitled “False gospels and Watching Virgins” (at a sermonindex conference) . The basic message seemed to be “Loads of people are deceived and going to hell – hopefully not us. Period.” No application – what the flip is the point of that?

    After reading/listening to this kind of thing, it is difficult not to get the impression that such folks are more interested in venting off frustration than actually convicting people and saving souls.

    Now, did the prophets in the bible have a rant sometimes? You bet, but they also accompanied it with an earnest plea for repentance, and often instruction (JTB, for example, was very specific to those who asked him ‘What should we do?’)

    So, what would you say (indeed maybe you have off the web) to those reading who find themselves thinking “crikey, I’ve got this all wrong, what should I do next?”

    Please do come back at me on anything (or everything) I’ve said here.

  4. Jon says:

    test
    (sorry, please delete!)

    • paulfpavao says:

      For others. I am not going to delete Jon’s post because he was testing italics, and that might benefit you. If you want to use italics or bold, here’s how:

      <i>italics</i>
      <b>bold</b>
      This is italicized and this is bold.

  5. Wanda Tillman says:

    FYI The article above “Why the sinner’s prayer?” is no longer available. Do you perhaps have a copy you have saved that you could post so it could be read? According to wordpress the authors have deleted the website. : (

    I watched a TEDTalk some time back (perhaps the same video you watched) about having a vision and believing in it as the basis for “why” we do things and “why” some are successful and others not so successful.

    As Christians, it is our faith that distinguishes us from those around us, because it is our faith that makes it possible to love those around us, even when they may not be so loveable by worldly standards. Our faith makes it possible for us to do the works, and our works prove our faith.

    BYW, I am enjoying the scriptures on works. Thanks.

    • paulfpavao says:

      No, I don’t. I linked the article based on just the preview paragraph. It was on my list of blogs to read, but now it is as gone for me as it is for you. Sorry about that.

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