Thursday, October 10, 2013

Witnessing vs. Banking: Parallels at work

It's amazing what God can use to teach you through a secular job and unsaved coworkers and customers. 

One of the things I do every day is stand out front and hand out flyers to people who are walking by the bank. This feels exactly like handing out tracts, and it provides some interesting insights on doing Christian literature distribution.  

•  I used to think when I was handing out tracts, "Oh, people are just so hardened to the gospel. No one will accept a tract." No, actually, no one wants ANY kind of literature shoved in their face. It doesn't matter if it's a flyer advertising free checking accounts or free salvation. It's not necessarily the content that people are opposed to, it's the interruption when they are passing by.  

•  I used to feel unspiritual for not wanting to hand out tracts. Now I realize that this is an activity that is universally difficult, whether it's love of money or love of Jesus that motivates you to do it. NONE of my coworkers like handing out flyers. They state frankly that they can't handle the rejection. The reluctance to go up to a complete stranger and hand them a piece of literature is not unique to Christians. It is intimidating whether or not there is anything spiritual about it. 

•  Handing out flyers is something you can get better at with practice. In a month and a half, I have gained skills, learned more about how to read people, and improved my ability to give out flyers. I discovered that if you stand still with the flyers in your hand, no one will take one all day long. In fact, it seems they will go out of their way to escape you, studiously avoiding eye contact. However, there is a way to get a flyer into the hand of that person who is studiously avoiding eye contact. First, greet the person with a warm smile and a genuine, "How are you doing today?" They will make eye contact. Then hold out the flyer, and casually take a few steps in the direction they are walking so they won't have to be bothered to stop. If you hold out the flyer while you are saying, "How are you," it doesn't work. The flyer must come an instant AFTER the greeting, but before they have a chance to break eye contact. (I have experimented with the timing on this.) And lo and behold, their hand will make an imperceptible move toward the flyer, or two fingers will spread out to receive it, and the flyer will go into their hand. Little techniques like this make a difference in terms of delivery. Whether or not they actually read it is a different story, but certainly more will get read if more get delivered. 

•  There are always some people who will rudely reject you, some who will reluctantly take a flyer, some who will pause for a short conversation, and some who want what you have to offer right away. Don't take it personally when they are rude. Don't stress about the person who reluctantly took the flyer. Be ready to plant a few key ideas in the mind of the person who stops to have a short conversation. Know how to deliver the goods to the person who wants it today. 

•  Usually the person who consents to open up a checking account is not the recipient of the flyer, but someone who is aware of some sort of problem. They come to us with a check that they couldn't cash elsewhere. They can't get a bank account with another bank because of a bankruptcy or other issue. There is a check-cashing fee for non-customers that we can waive if they open up an account. This is the easiest person to work with. Same with the gospel. If a person has an awareness of the problem (sin), they don't need a flyer as much as they need to be offered the gospel, and they will be the readiest to receive it. (Does this render the flyer distribution unnecessary? No, because it is reaching a different person at a different level, the person who needs a sound byte, the person who doesn't have awareness of a problem, the person who is just walking along, minding their own business, oblivious to you and the issue you represent. The flyer creates initial awareness for that person that can possibly bear fruit later. And even if we don't understand all this reasoning, we pass out flyers because the higher-ups ask us to. It's part of our job, simple as that. Also, being out there handing out the flyers allows us to interact with a higher percentage of "people with a problem" than if we stood at our teller windows all day and waited for them to come to us. A few come to us out of their own initiative, but a far greater number walk on by, unaware that we could offer them a solution, unless we are out there, drawing them in and engaging them in conversation.)

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