Test Driving the Competition

On Seth Godin’s blog, he points us to a fantastic and risky marketing strategy: Saturn will offer test drives of their competitors, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord while trying to sell the Saturn Aura in the midsize car division.

What if there was a way that we (the Church) could show the remarkable difference a walk with God makes in one’s life as compared to a life without God? Oh wait, we can! 🙂

Our toughest challenge is just getting people into our showrooms (our gatherings, our communities, our homes, and ultimately into our lives) and then becoming people that they respect/appreciate and perhaps even see as trustworthy to share what we have found in Jesus.

Showing 7 comments
  • Sam.

    Interesting analogy. I don’t know any stats to back this up, but I would actually suspect though that most people decide the cars they want to test drive before they go to a showroom based on seeing them on the roads, advertising, etc. I guess I’m just wondering whether rather then making getting people into our showrooms the challenge, if getting the Christ-followers OUT of the showrooms and into the world and deomonstrating the difference God can make in and through our lives there my be the toughest challenge. Christians become so good at hanging out with each other, form an exclusive clique, and then make it all about getting people onto our turf. We’ve been focussing a lot with our guys here on living missional/incarnational lives, leaving the comfort zone of nice Christian community and getting our hands and feet dirty amongst the people we’re trying to connect with on their turf.

    What do you think?

  • Daniel D

    When I read this I had a slightly different thought of how “cars” can easily symbolize religions or perceived paths to God.

    The showroom is crowded. Rows and rows lined up of shinny cars, all with bells and whistles. The Hindu car, the New-Age car, the Muslim car, the Christian car, etc.

    Are seekers just confused? Stats show that the majority of adults believe there is a “God” but what stops them from choosing Jesus? Is it their perception of the car of Christianity? Are they not seeing a marked difference in our car versus the cars of others or has the reputation of driving caused many to seek an alternate means of transportation? Is the price of gas just too high that people would rather take the bus versus invest in an individual and personal relationship that is followed with obedience and obligation?

    I guess the bigger question is what makes our car stand out to the, and I use this term with caution, “Consumer.” Are we living authentic Christian lives that fully represent and embody the living God within us or are we playing it safe? For many, the Christian car has been chosen because it has the nicest paint job and the brochure said it can take us from 0-60 in 3.0 seconds or because everyone else seems to like that car so it must be a good deal. Have we chosen to follow Christ because we are ready to fuel our lives with the hope, faith and love that turns our world upside down and inside out in service and in love towards others? Or have we settled for a faith that gets us into Heaven and gives us some comfort that some day things will get better? Are we taking it seriously and living it out in our every day actions, in the times when no one is looking, in the compassion we show, in the character we display… even in the small actions such as how we treat the cashier at the local grocery store?

    More and more I am realizing that it’s way to easy to get caught up in the “car.” As we drive to an eternal destination we can easily cruise right on by those among us who are suffering, hurting and in need. Jesus tells me step out of the car and follow truth. He tells me to bring Heaven to Earth right here, right now. He tells me to let my life be the guidepost that draws others in not by the sticker on the window or a slick commercial brochure but by showing His love to a hurting world. If we all do our part in following this organic movement of Jesus then no test drive will be required.

    …sorry for the long post, I got off on a tangent. 🙂

  • Julio

    There’s another element to this analogy: the salesman. Any of us who have shopped for a car know the kind of pressure situation a car salesman will put is in. Some may lie, some may not. But most will distort an element of truth to make that dollar. Proselytizers are working for a different kind of dollar which is basically moral capital. We need clarity and we get clarity through facts and truth. I don’t mind you trying to sell your car, but keep in mind many of us are happy without one.

  • Eric Bryant

    Love your thoughts, Julio. That is why I always encourage people to share with those who are actually seeking. Sometimes people aren’t seeking until a crisis, so just being in a friendship with someone allows the opportunity to encourage them spiritually when invited to do so.

    Thanks for jumping in!

  • Eric Bryant

    Thanks Daniel and Sam! I agree that our showrooms (the actual meetings with people from church aren’t enough). The more effective showrooms are in our homes and in our lives!

  • Daniel D

    I agree Julio. Great insight there.

  • J. R. Miller

    You have some smart readers Eric. I appreciate the insights above.

    I am always reluctant to use an story that gives the impression that we are “selling church, but I do like one thing about this story Eric.

    Letting people test drive the competition tells me that Saturn is not afraid to answer tough questions.

    I think all too often folks in the church are afraid to let people come in who are different or who question our core doctrines. They are afraid that somehow these questions will hurt our Faith. I think letting people come in and test drive our faith with tough questions from other religious views is something we shoudl encourage.


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