Disclaimer: This blog post is not about selling indulgences. “The Catholic Church does not now nor has it ever approved the sale of indulgences. This is to be distinguished from the undeniable fact that individual Catholics (perhaps the best known of them being the German Dominican Johann Tetzel [1465-1519]) did sell indulgences–but in doing so they acted contrary to explicit Church regulations. This practice is utterly opposed to the Catholic Church’s teaching on indulgences, and it cannot be regarded as a teaching or practice of the Church.” (https://www.catholic.com/qa/does-the-catholic-church-still-sell-indulgences)
When I was in University, people naturally asked me what I majored in. I would respond, “International Business and Theology.” Sometimes they’d reply, “Oh, are you going to sell Jesus?” We would have a chuckle and move on. I would often think, How the heck am I going to intertwine these two very different majors? I would usually pick my classes each semester with three in Business and three in Theology. Each semester, by God’s incredible grace and plan, I would learn something similar about these seemingly very different fields of study. I saw how they needed each other and balanced each other. There are many different ways this happens but I would like to bring one to attention today.
Let me explain…
When we know we have a great product or service to offer someone or a company, we present it to them. We tell them all about it, get really deep into the details and all of the benefits that our product or service offers that can make their life or company easier or better in some way. Sometimes we don’t get to share all the details, the chance was missed or there was not enough time, etc., yet we know the client can benefit from our product or service. What happens next? Do we tell ourselves, “Oh well, there goes that chance”? Do we quit and never reach out to that client again? NO!
We all know what happens next. The sales funnel! This is a visual representation of the journey from the prospect’s first contact with the salesperson until a completed purchase. (https://www.pipedrive.com/en/blog/sales-funnel) A client may not buy the first time he/she hears about a product or service. Whatever sales funnel is used, we must nurture the relationship with the prospective buyer and have them go through a sales funnel. We don’t just forget about them and let them walk away. We keep going and eventually get a sale! It takes practice to become good at anything. You may not close every single deal. But a lot of them you can! You keep the client on your radar and you’re sure to be on theirs. You learn, you build a relationship and you walk with them all the way to and through the sale. Then, there is a continuation of the relationship and keeping that customer happy and loyal. Without all of this, there can be no successful business.
Oftentimes, when we hear the word “sales” it can come off as a bad or negative thing. I have to sell someone something or I have to convince someone they want this when they really don’t and I feel terrible making someone do something they don’t want to. We’ve all been there, but that’s not what true sales are. There are bad salespeople with an unethical mindset that have ruined the reputation of sales. There is so much good that can be done with sales when we approach it as a way to serve others. We can serve someone’s needs and exceed their expectations in such a way that we have helped them with things they didn’t even know they needed help with. We allow them to experience deep gratitude for our services. The good that can be done exceeds what we thought possible.
So how do sales relate to living our Catholic faith?
As Catholics, we are not selling the faith, so there is no sales funnel. However, we can approach sharing our faith with others in a way that is similar to the way a salesperson may nurture a relationship with his/her clients. When we share our faith with others and experience positive reactions, we continue to do so with those people so that they may grow in their faith and relationship with Christ.
When was the last time someone came to you and said, “Hey! I want to buy your product because I love the way you love it and have it in your life”? Probably for most of us, never. It just doesn’t happen that way. We usually build relationships with several people but then we get scared or timid to “close the deal.” This is often how we act when it comes to sharing our faith. When we experience rejection, we tend to move on, not wanting to “force our religion” on anyone. We may never mention God to those people again, hoping they will come to a conclusion on their own and by our good example, not by our words, intentionality, and testimony. We stop inviting our peers to mass and faith-related groups and events, stop talking about the faith, take it out of conversation altogether and resolve to just “live our faith” and hope they see that. Why are we scared to continue inviting, using our words and defending the faith? If you struggle to do these things (it happens to the best of us!), I challenge you to learn about and grow deeper in your own faith. You can’t give what you don’t have, but you can give even the little that you do have. You’ll be amazed at what happens.
So, when it comes to living and sharing our Catholic faith, don’t give up! Get back out there! And when you experience any type of rejection, keep building that relationship and eventually, make the ask—an invitation to mass, Adoration, Bible study, an event at your church, prayer, etc. Keeping asking, because what’s at stake is the most fulfilling relationship they will ever have—a relationship with Christ in the fullness of the Catholic Church—and the salvation of souls.
God has a reason for every person in your life. Start in your home. Start with your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, dog walkers, babysitters. There are plenty of people in the “funnel” right now. Don’t give up and don’t just keep people there. We want them to experience the most valuable thing there ever was. We share our faith and the gospel for others to experience the radical love of Jesus Christ and accept Him into their lives. This Love is for everyone and we are the vessels through which He will change the world.