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Evangelism: The Art Of Selling Your Dream

By Conscious Owl | Conscious Leadership

Jul 21
evangelistic leader

You may have tried your hand selling something trivial, but challenging. It might have been Girl Scout Cookies, Time-Life Subscriptions or Sierra Club Donations. You were only half-sold on the product, service, cause or idea, but you gave it your best.

Chances are you fell into one of two traps: One: You tried cramming the product down the prospect’s throat, usually over increasingly vociferous objections. Two: You tried to win the prospect by being a nice guy or gal, but forgot to show how the product can actually serve the person.

In either case, you failed to make the sale. What if there was a better way? What if the best way to “sell” someone is to not sell him at all, but make him want to buy, and then convince him it was all his idea.

Master salespeople are like samurai warriors, blending with the background, yet ready to spring into action at any moment.​

What Is Evangelism?

Evangelism means “Good News” in Greek. It was initially used by the early Christians, starting with Jesus Christ, Himself. When Jesus first met Saint Peter, he was a mere fisherman. Jesus invited Peter to follow Him, and Christ would make him “a fisher of men.” A recent Gospel movie modified His invitation to, “Come with me and change the world.” For Christ, it was all about preaching a new humanity driven by the power of divine Love.

Evangelism can be personal or mass, done by individuals to other individuals, or to whole groups of people. At the day of Pentecost, Saint Peter spoke, divinely inspired, to a huge group of Jewish people gathered in Jerusalem, and 3,000 were converted that very day. Yet even with mass evangelism, it is always “won by one.” There is always a one-to-one element in a total life transformation.

importance of evangelism

Evangelism has recently expanded beyond religion to include any Idea, Cause, Product or Service. It can be direct or indirect. The greatest evangelist after the Apostle Paul was Billy Graham, who pioneered global evangelism using contemporary media, such as radio, TV, Film and Direct Mail. A later generation had a more commercial focus, and could draw on social networks and mobile media.

Evangelism technically lies between sales and marketing, while including elements of both. It is an art, and it always entails sharing a dream that enchants and captures the audience. The audience buys into the dream, and in turn, shares the story with others. A viral community can emerge, going beyond town or city to wrap around the world in seconds, minutes or days.​

What It Takes to Go Global

The great secret to going global is to have a big enough dream, a dream worthy of both life and death. The men and women who changed the world for not a decade or two, but for hundreds and thousands of years, were all transformed. Buddha birthed the possibility of enlightenment for all humanity, not just for a privileged few. Jesus gave humanity a vision of divine love with both His life and His death that defied all human standards. Muhammad gave humanity a vision of absolute unity and the abiding peace that comes from surrendering to the perfect will of our Creator.

Chances are you already have a dream that you have been cherishing, a book that has never been written or a message to be shared at the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards or the United Nations.​

types of evangelism

That dream must be nursed and cultivated until it takes on a life of its own and begins to direct and guide your every thought, word and action. Coming up with a truly compelling dream that others can make their own is half the battle.

1. Your Dream Must Be Insanely Great

When Steve Jobs created the Apple II, the Macintosh, the iMac, the iPhone and the iPad, his self-imposed criterion was always, “Is this product insanely great?” Not just OK, good, cool or even excellent. It must be so great that it blows away everything before it. You must up the competition 10x.

We might think of Thomas Edison, who after literally 10,000 attempts, perfected the incandescent light bulb. Imagine what that meant to humanity, which could do precious little after dark, depending upon candles and kerosene lanterns. This held true for thousands of years. Suddenly, everything changed.

Today, we need look only at Elon Musk, who perfected a gorgeous, powerful car--luxury, sport or utility--far sexier than any gas-guzzling car with zero carbon emission. Furthermore, Elon is preparing to lead humanity into successfully colonizing Mars by building a rocket reusable on a daily basis.​

2. Your Dream Must Change the World

If you look at the pioneers, visionaries and inventors that fundamentally changed life, you can see Johannes Gutenberg with his printing press, Martin Luther with his freedom of consciousness, the Freemasons with their freedom of thought and Thomas Jefferson with his freedom to choose your own government.

The trend continued with people like Alexander Graham Bell, who created the telephone, Orville and Wilber Wright, who took us into the sky, Guglielmo Marconi, who introduced radio and Henry Ford, who succeeded in belting the earth with dependable automobiles.

On the humane side of life, we can think of Mahatma Gandhi bringing down the British Empire, the Dalai Lama, who nursed Tibetan civilization back to life, becoming the leading spokesman for humanity, and Mother Theresa of Calcutta, who showed what could be done to rehabilitate the utterly destitute.​

3. Your Dream Must Speak to Everybody

We can go from Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” to John F. Kennedy’s “New Frontier” to Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. The most sacred literature is often supremely simple. Think of David’s Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd,” or Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.

Most religious and political movements start with a book. The three Abrahamic Faiths started with the Hebrew Bible. Classical China started with The Analects of Confucius and the Tao Te Ching. Modern Hinduism started with The Bhagavad Gita. The American Revolution started with Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. Need we forget Mao’s Little Red Book, of dubious merit, but which had a huge impact on China?

Perhaps the dream is most effective when expressed in a song, play or movie. Think of John Lennon’s “Imagine” or George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord.” Think of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” or “Hamlet.” Think of Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi, or Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth.​

evangelistic community

4. Your Dream Must Create Community

Barack Obama did not become the first Black American President by accident. His slogan “Yes, we can!” resonated with millions of people no longer willing to judge a Presidential candidate by the color of his skin. All dreams require a community where people can share and pass on the dream.

Buddha started with his Sangha, Jesus Christ with His inner circle and apostles, Muhammad with his Ummah. These eventually grew into temples, cathedrals and mosques. The heart of community, however, is always with people. As Jesus put it, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

If we go into modern times, we can think of Mahatma Gandhi with his ashram, the abolitionists and feminists in their Congregational Churches, and Martin Luther King with his Freedom Riders. Never underestimate the gathering power of a high school auditorium, a Unitarian Church or a Masonic Hall. It is sobering to realize that once upon a time, all the Communists in the world could fit into a high school gymnasium with room to spare!​

5. Your Dream Must Survive the Test of Time

Great ideas never die. Just think of three core ideas: Faith, education and revolution.

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The great religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam show no signs of going away. Yes, they are being reinvented, and in some sense they are merging with each other. Women are moving into leadership positions, and increasingly, all races, nations and classes are welcome, even among contemporary Jews, such as The Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles.

Writing and education are here to stay. Writing began on stone, clay and metal. It then moved on to papyrus and silk until it found its way to paper and the printing press. Now writing is digital, and you can compose anytime, anywhere on your smart phone or table. The university started with Plato’s Academy, was developed in India at Nalanda, a Buddhist institution, was picked up in Cairo as a Muslim institution, was appropriated by the Christians in Oxford, Notre Dame and Chartres and eventually morphed into the grand secular university, thanks to the Germans.

Political freedom is never really going away. It was pioneered in the direct democracy of Athens, developed in the Roman Republic, picked up in Venice and Geneva and introduced in America as the United States. Eventually, the ideal of democracy found its way into every single form of government, even fascism and Communism, perverted as they may have become. Today, it continues on with such phenomena as Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement.​

great ideas never die

Five Ultimate Evangelists Who Changed the World Forever

If we think of very positive people who changed life on a global scale, we can get helpful insights into how we might either continue their work, or discover a whole new possibility. We could point to hundreds and thousands of people, some whose influence has survived millennia.

1. Jesus Christ: The Prince of Peace and Lord of Love began His early life under the most unfavorable circumstances, being born among cattle and chased by a crazed, despotic king. Whether or not Jesus ever went to India, He chose to start His ministry with simple village workers of high integrity. He healed the sick and raised the dead wherever they happened to be. Jesus spoke in the open as much as in synagogues and the Temple. When Christ died, He was utterly abandoned by His terrified confidants. That they would then rally together with invincible faith just two months later is the greatest testament to the reality of His resurrection.

2. Werner Erhard: Werner abandoned his first wife and kids and left town with another woman, whom he later married. He sold cars and books until he got into self-improvement. Werner never had the chance to go to college. So he reinvented himself. Under the influence of the great Anglo-American Zen evangelist, Alan Watts, Werner had an enlightenment experience that utterly transformed him. He then realized that enlightenment was an incomparable experience that can be transmitted within a modern institution. Enlightenment should be our birthright. He directly or indirectly trained several million people, the majority of whom “got it.” Werner also cleaned up his early life with his first wife, and gradually transformed into a shining inspiration. Werner made “transformation” a household word.​

3. President Ronald Reagan: Reagan was an aging actor who became governor of California. He developed conservative, hawkish views while maintaining a high personal integrity. Reagan had a charming personality, as he was never mad at anyone, and even his enemies couldn’t help but like him. Reagan launched the “Star Wars” campaign to scare the Soviets out of their wits. He felt the Cold War was stupid and useless, and that America could establish lasting peace through strength, not weakness. Reagan met his match in General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, and learned the power of relationship, and a deep friendship beyond ideological barriers. Together, they forged a new world order, ending the stubborn 40-year Cold War.​

4. Steve Jobs: Steve was an orphan who only met his birth parents in adult life. His adoptive parents were good-hearted with modest means who loved technology. Steve was a perfectionistic who had a tough time adapting to high school. Then he met Steve Wozniac, dropped acid with a high school sweetheart, and then went to India after a brief stint at Reed College in Oregon. When Steve came back, he had a vision of an electronic apple, and of building a computer that even his mother would love. Before he died, Steve had made “Apple” the most beloved brand in the world and totally transformed no less than six industries.​

5. Pope Francis I: Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was an extremely popular priest who sided with the poor, conspicuously riding buses when he could have been escorted in limousines. He was about to retire when Pope Benedict unexpectedly decided to quit his office, feeling temperamentally unsuited to the position. The Church was embroiled in charges of financial misappropriation and pedophilia claims going back decades. Rarely had it been in a weaker position. The cardinals decided Jorge Bergoglio was their man. When elected, he decided not to become another “Peter,” “Paul” or “John.” Rather, the new pope chose to be called by Saint Francis of Assisi, the Church’s greatest saint who most embodied Christ. The Pope then insisted he be called only “the Bishop of Rome.” He kissed poor people’s feet, refused to reside in the papal palace, and began to give away the Church’s misappropriated money. He refused to judge Lesbians and Gays. Pope Francis brought to life the original ideal: Love, Joy and Peace. Recently, Pope Francis addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress, as well as the United Nations. While he has no illusions about the implications of global warming, he maintains an abiding faith in humanity. It has been a long time since the Church has confronted a true saint in its highest office.​

How “Little Old You” Can Save the Planet

A hero is nothing but a common man or woman in uncommon circumstances. If you consider yourself “common,” you have a real chance of becoming a hero. It begins with a truly worthy dream or vision 10 times greater than anything before it. If we look at the overwhelming crises humanity faces, the greatest is a spiritual emptiness. The fastest growing religion in America is “None.” “Spiritual but not religious” characterizes many of our best youth. Why couldn’t we create a noninstitutional, all-inclusive “religion” via the Internet or mobile devices?

If Gandhi was here today, chances are that he would use very different tactics. He would no longer depend upon rallies, marches and sit-ins. He would look to the tools of today. What can hackers do? What can viral “memes” do? How can social media and networks be mobilized? Gandhi would definitely hold to loving his enemies, while staying true to his core principles, which he called “Satyagraha.

Once you come up with the insanely great idea, cause, vision or dream, you can then scale it in a fashion never before dreamed. It no longer takes months or years. It can take seconds, minutes or hours. The potential of many-to-many communication has barely been tapped. It is awaiting a few people who love the world and want to enlighten humanity in time. That person just might be you.

Master the Craft from the Evangelist’s Evangelist

Guy Kawasaki apprenticed with the late Steve Jobs, making Macintosh the most popular computer in the world. He was hired as Apple’s second evangelist to promote a daring new platform to PC developers with hardly any software to show. Guy was a Hawaiian boy with an “Aloha” personality selling jewelry before Apple recruited him. Guy did his job so well that when numerous corporate upsets threatened the very life of the company, the fan base he created refused to let the Mac die.

Guy has gone on to evangelize all kinds of products, services, causes and ideas, but the dearest one to him is evangelism itself. Guy would like to see all humanity become evangelists. He is witty, passionate, refreshing and totally fun. He has the art of evangelism down to the point where he can impart his principles to even think-headed people like me. I have been personally acquainted with Guy for a couple of decades, and I can truthfully say that Guy is one of the very brightest, shining stars that keep Silicon Valley vibrant, no matter what happens in the larger world.

You couldn’t ask for a better teacher at a more affordable price. In fact, it was Guy who made “evangelism” a household word. Without Guy, an article like this would have never even occurred to me. Why don’t you join our community? You may be a far greater evangelist than you ever imagined!​

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About the Author

One conscious owl to another... sharing what we learned over the years, and from many wise owls before us.