Like many of you, I spent time away on vacation this summer. A trip back to the home of our young-married years reminded my wife and me of the value of reuniting with lifelong friends.
All the years of separation disappeared in minutes. We talked as though time stood still with little need to catch up; I only had to keep up. When I see family and friends in heaven one day, Scripture says we will have no sorrow—about time missed or anything else. Now we know in part, but then we will know in full (see 1 Cor. 13:12).
As I absorbed all the medicine that shot to my heart while in the presence of these dear friends, marketplace ministry lessons lit up my mind like fireflies in the summer dusk. Our customers, clients, leads, prospects and even the tire-kickers seek a relationship with someone who can help solve problems. We have something they value, so they want to know us. We offer a product or service, so they seek to connect. We bring our food to the table, and our audience partakes.
The closer we remain to the people who engage with our products, services or ministries, the better our opportunity to build kingdom relationships. After all, the first commandment of a kingdom business is to build kingdom relationships.
Don't confuse your desire for profit, progress or popularity with your mission to build relationships. In the words we know as the Great Commission, Jesus urged His disciples to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19a). Consider this marketplace ministry paraphrase: "Go therefore and build kingdom relationships."
Relationships are observable. It's easy to see what matters most to us. We remain close to it. Over time, absentee relationships tend to lose their luster.
The key questions are: How can we get close and stay close? How can we maintain—or better yet, magnify—the shine?
I asked those questions on a college tennis court when I first saw the beautiful woman I would marry not too many months later. I've been asking the same questions as a marketplace minister for over 40 years.
We must care enough to observe and understand the problems people experience. We must long to come closer to people who need our services. We must desire a lasting relationship with people who receive what we offer. In relationships, proximity matters.
We can observe Walgreens' marketing strategy firsthand—location matters. Build stores near neighborhoods. Connect with customers where they live. As of the end of 2018, the pharmacy chain has 9,560 locations, with stores in every state.
Denzel Washington popularized an old phrase: "If you hang around a barbershop long enough, you'll eventually get a haircut." Though this phrase has a double meaning, I prefer to focus on the embedded marketing lesson.
What can we do to encourage people who need us to hang around a little longer? What can we do to inspire loyalty, build community, inspire trust?
Can we influence others to read our content and come back for more? Can we repeatedly deliver value in a podcast, sermon or event and build an audience? Can we build and maintain a website that delivers information and value to every targeted visitor?
Clearly define who you are called to serve.
Do what you can repeatedly do well.
Strive for continuous improvement in your lane.
Overcommunicate with people who need you.
Think transformation over transactions.
Jesus spoke clearly and often to His disciples about their need to "remain" ("dwell," AMPC; "stay joined," CEV; "remain united," GNT; "abide," NASB; "remain in life-union," TPT). In John 15 alone, He cautioned them to "remain" eight times.
Jesus knew His followers would be tempted to leave the Way. He knew they would chase squirrels. He knew the Holy Spirit would help them remain. So He sent them the Comforter, whose charge was not only to comfort but to convict of sin (John 16:8), to help His followers pray (Rom. 8:26) and to remind them of the things they'd learned about God (John 14:26).
As we remain near the cross, we remain close to those we are called to serve. "Remain in Me, as I also remain in you" (John 15:4a). Remaining bears fruit in both kingdom and marketplace.
While Jesus was ministering in a crowd, a woman said to herself, If I could just touch Him ... (see Matt. 9:20-22).
Your platform draws hurting people near. Your touch builds and maintains relationships.
Dr. Steve Greene is publisher and executive vice president of the media group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His Charisma House book, Love Leads, is available at christianbook.com, amazon.com or your local bookstore. Download his Greenelines podcast at cpnshows.com.
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