Don’t you just love the telemarketers who call at supper time? It seems like I cannot sit down at the table without the phone ringing prior to our first bite. I have added our number to the do not call registry, but there are still some brave salesmen, or automatic dialers that do not believe that “do not call” applies to them. It is so frustrating to get up from the table, while everyone is waiting for the prayer to finally be said, to answer the nagging phone just to find out it is a sales call, trying to sell us pork chops at a cheap price. Organic, healthy pork chops, delivered directly to your door step, only $4.95 a pound. Words that should not be uttered cross my mind. I try to politely bring the call to an end, but too often I am interrupted by another attempt to tell me how good these pork chops are. My benevolence is mistaken for a real desire for their sumptuous product, when in reality I eat Kosher and am repulsed by the thought. So much for being nice! But still, it is my responsibility to properly represent God to these people. Why does it matter? It’s the congregation phone that I answer and the congregation is labeled by the way in which the one who answers the phone behaves. When the caller ID is displayed on the modern devices we call telephones, it shows “Congregation Beit Minorah,” so my actions represent the whole group, whatever it is.

How bad is this sales call phenomenon affecting our society? Do you love to get those sales calls? What makes these sincere salespeople so loathed by the general populace? They just have a message they wish to give to a people they perceive need their product. Do they make you desire their product? I have placed my number on the “Do Not Call Registry,” but they still keep calling. The numbers evidently fall off of the list after a period of time and you have to reenlist for the “Do Not Call Registry” if sales calls resume. Is there anything we can do to rid ourselves of this pestilence? I believe there is.

At one time I owned an automobile service garage. Since every call may have been a paying client, I was conditioned to answer every ring. That was how I paid the bills. This was before caller ID, so we just needed to talk to everyone who called. Often, I was on my back under a car attempting to fix a problem just to hear the ringing of the phone. The previous owner of this business had a body shop which supplied a continuous drone of loud running tools. To offset the din, he had installed a bell for the phone that sounded like the public-school fire alarm. It was right in the bay where I most often worked. The decibels were incredible, and I could never get used to its sudden intrusion into my peace. One day, while I was laying under a car checking the CV boots, the phone’s alarm bell sounded. I was startled and my head hit the undercarriage. Blood began to flow down my forehead. I had just a short time to get to the phone to take care of that possible needy customer. I made it to the phone to discover it was the AT&T phone rep who called at least twice a month, asking if I wanted him to share how I could increase my incoming phone calls. He wanted me to spend $1500.00 on a yellow page. My patience spent, I informed him that if he called again, I would have the phone removed. I had too much interruption already and I didn’t need any more.

The other day I was trying to contact a local concrete company to order a truckload of concrete. I called and got an answering machine that requested I leave a message, only to then declare that the message machine was full. I thought they must have closed for the evening and I would try in the morning. I called in the morning and got the same problem. I continued until about 9:30am and then thought, “has the place closed?” I got in the car, drove to town to the concrete plant, and found three people sitting in the office discussing the ballgame. I asked if they were having phone problems. They said they’d had many calls already this morning. I told them I was calling and they asked if I had my phone number blocked. I said, “not that I know of,” since I didn’t know if one of my children had done that at some time, but I assured him I didn’t even know how to block my phone number. They said they do not answer calls from blocked phone numbers. They don’t have time for all the sales calls. Then it hit me, Beit Minorah. Nobody knows what Beit Minorah is. It is a church, but who has ever heard of a church with a Hebrew name? They probably think it is a sales call. So, sales calls have gotten so bad that they were ignoring a call from someone who was wanting to spend over a thousand dollars with them. Wow, have we ever been badly trained! It is a subconscious training, but training just the same.

Don’t you just hate these unwanted calls? Is there any way to stop it? Yes, there is! We are told we cannot change what other people do, but we can change our own behavior. As you continue reading, you will discover how you can have a hand in stopping this intrusive behavior, one person at a time. The first step given in Scripture is to treat others the way we wish to be treated.

Some of you don’t work in sales so the decision to stop unwanted sales calls is easy, but you might also be a salesperson and already be making your living this way. For you it is tougher, but surely you don’t believe you are loved for these actions. How many times, do people act rudely or threaten salesmen who call a home or drop by without first being asked to come? I suspect most just hang up before the salesman gets more than 25 words said. Wow! What a way to make a living. If this is your profession, you must have emotions of steel.

I have been in sales most of my life. At the risk of losing all my credibility, I will lower my guard and share that I once sold Volkswagens, Mazdas, Porsches and Audis. I know car salesmen are less respected than the “oldest profession,” but when I was selling cars, I held a high degree of integrity as a rule for my life, just as I do now. In spite of the supposed disadvantages of an honest presentation, I still broke many sales records for the firms I represented. I was rewarded with banquets and honors from the manufacturers and importers. While, I made a name for myself selling the product I believed in, I believed it a waste of time to do cold calls. For the sake of clarification, a cold call is to systematically go through the phone book and dial phone numbers to ask random people if they want to buy a product I sell. In my thinking, that is a futile, laborious attempt to find a customer. How many calls would you have to make to find one person who wanted to buy a new car, let alone one specific kind of automobile? If you found one, what would his disposition be after getting an unsolicited call on the phone? Few people like phone salesmen. How can you present a car on the phone and how could this ever be profitable and efficient? Maybe 1 in 1000 calls could bring about success, but wouldn’t your efforts be better served by talking to people who came in to see your cars because they were interested in them? It was such a ridiculous notion to do cold calls, or worse yet, go door to door to find a person looking for a car, that I refused to do that. I had one manager suggest I do this. I thought he was crazy. I better managed my time and worked with people who came to me because of a recommendation from a client or showed their interest by walking in the door.

My sales philosophy is as follows: If you respectfully listen to someone’s needs, show them products that fit those needs, and service them well after the sale, you will get lots of repeat business and loyal customers. I thought integrity made a difference, and considering the awards, I think I was right.

Wouldn’t you just love it if car salesmen came to your door or called you at suppertime? I cannot think of anything more universally hated than the interruption and intrusion of the unsolicited sales call. Yes, I do have a plan in which you can participate and will solve at least one aspect of this problem. One last story will help you understand your part in the plan.

While I was sitting in the den of my boss’s house one evening, listening to the newly released “Star Wars” soundtrack album, the door-bell rang (yes, this was “The Empire Strikes Back,” and yes, this dates me). The owner of the Volkswagen dealership had just seen the movie and wanted me to hear the soundtrack. I had not gone yet since the Grace Brethren Church I attended at the time did not approve of movies and I was new in town and didn’t want to endanger my credibility by breaking their rules. Jack, my boss, knew I loved classical music, and John Williams, the composer, had done a fantastic job with this movie score. I was enthralled. Jack’s speakers were top of the line. There were at least four of them. It felt like I was sitting in the orchestra pit. I knew what that felt like since I had played in a symphony band for most of my youth.

While enraptured in the music, I heard the conversation at the door. It was a student from the local Christian college asking if she could have some of his time to conduct a survey for a class she was taking. He was being charitable to the student. He also had been a college student who had to do crazy projects, and was a devout Catholic, identifying somewhat with her Christian heritage. First, he was asked if he considered himself a Christian. He replied that he was. She continued with, “Where do you go to church?” He replied with his church’s name. As the survey progressed it became evident that it was not a survey at all. It was a veiled attempt at evangelism. The student ended the survey asking if she could return to conduct a Bible study in his home so that he could have the saving knowledge of Jesus.

My Catholic boss was livid. He had generously given of his time to answer these questions just to find out is was a scheme to pass off their particular brand of Christianity. He was a Christian and had told them so, but since this was a Protestant college, they believed he needed to be introduced to Christ the Protestant rather than Christ the Catholic. In fact, they believed Catholics were not even saved. He returned to the den sounding like maybe they were right, at least to my naive Protestant ears. He ranted about the deception these kids had perpetrated. He asked how they could believe they were doing God’s work while lying about their intentions. He felt totally scammed, having wasted at least 10 minutes being magnanimous to these little deceivers. I saw his point. I knew what was going on. They were attending evangelism class at the local college. The college was sponsored by my church. This is why I knew. I was hearing about their character from the other side. It was embarrassing and revealing. I couldn’t defend them. This was not only ineffective, it was dishonest. After that evening I understood why people so resented this technique. Will they have to answer to God for their lying as Jack suggested? They didn’t exactly testify falsely. However, didn’t it misrepresent the God we serve? This was truly a sales technique, not an act of obedience. My eyes had been opened to be able to distinguish the difference.

People who evangelize without first building relationships and waiting to be asked are sincere loving people. They have no malice and really want what they view as best for their listener. They just do not understand boundaries and the negative effects produced when they are ignored.

The world who does not agree with our religious beliefs has a name for this sales technique. It is called “evangelism.” This, of course, does not cover the large scope of practices that we may consider to be evangelism. It is merely the form with which they are most familiar and hate as bad as the cold sales calls on the phone. Their response is based on a feeling that they are not being respected as individuals. I have heard many from Judah state that Messianics are dishonest, deceptive, and untrustworthy. This thinking is spawned from the desire to evangelize, using a variety of techniques much like the visitor to my boss’s home. Through evangelism, they feel condemned for walking a life as they believe correct. In Article Seven of the Articles of Declaration we discuss the need to build trust. Trust cannot be gained overnight.

We will consent to the need to walk before our brother Judah in a manner that builds trust, opens doors of communication, and displays godly character. We further acknowledge the need to repent for centuries of hostility, unfair treatment, and religious overzealousness directed at Judah in the name of Christianity, and to seek forgiveness from Judah and our heavenly Father.

This kind of evangelism does not share “good news.” Rather it shows disrespect to their intellect and infringes upon their personal space and time. Throughout the world, there has been a groundswell of distaste for evangelical beliefs. At first, I was offended, even though I had understood the problem from my youth. After some study of the topic, I understand this is not what we are encouraged to do in Scripture. This is a technique taught by our churches and read into Scripture by eisegesis (that is, reading the word according to our own ideas, attitudes and beliefs).

The Jews put themselves on a “do not call” list years ago, but people refuse to respect that decision. I have personally considered legal action against firms that refuse to obey the do not call register. A few years ago, the Jewish community strongly reacted to Mormons who were being baptized for dead Jews who were not saved according to Mormon theology. This was a charitable act as far as a Mormon was concerned, but from the Jewish perspective, it was an intrusion and worse. One man said. “I live my life in an honorable way following the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, only to die and then have someone make me a Mormon.” I personally do not think their status changed in the eyes of God because of something a person did without their permission after they died, but I do understand their perspective. How disrespectful of their life! Such techniques, where the individual’s desires are not considered and honored, are harmful to relationships and destructive in the purpose they attempt to accomplish.

If you appreciate those calls during supper, or really want to hear about the price of pork chops even though you eat Kosher, then maybe you can defend evangelism as it is known by the non-evangelical world. However, if you do defend this, I know you have not understood how the target of your evangelism feels. Maybe you should consider how to apply, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Many in this movement want nothing to do with a Jew who does not believe in Messiah because they think they will lead people away from Yeshua. They say we cannot listen to a Rabbi because he will convince us we don’t need Yeshua. In truth, many have converted to Judaism, denying Yeshua, so I understand their concern. Nevertheless, if we do not want to allow Judah to evangelize us, we also shouldn’t try to evangelize him.

I know the cold call technique may be reinforced when that one person in literally thousands seems to respond to the message. Many people never see that one person, but continue on because they feel compelled by their interpretation of Scripture. I suspect the one in thousands who responded was hearing a call that would have been answered with or without the self-proclaimed evangelist. He may think the personal worker is responsible, and so might the one passing out tracts, but God may know you both are mistaken. Yet, He is willing to allow you to see it as you want.

This one in one thousand event does not support the process; it only perpetuates a myth that some want to believe. Some will insist this technique is a legitimate way, or even the best way, to follow God’s commands. I admit that a door to door salesman is still a salesman. Yet to think that this is the only, or even the best way to do the job is mistaken. However, to infer that the prohibition of this technique is against Scripture is worse. The question maybe should not be, “How many have been drawn to God with this technique?” but, “How many have been completely driven away from God?” The anger against Christianity being expressed in the American community right now indicates more are being repelled than being wooed. We can either learn from our mistakes, or develop a persecution complex, claim to be unjustly treated, and promote our technique as superior holiness.

The specific method I am writing about is a sales technique of those who wish to sell our religious beliefs to others, not a biblical command to share of the hope we have within. I don’t want to make the sales technique evil as if to say a person is sinning when practicing it, only that they are mistaken in believing that this is a method commanded in the Bible.

Article 8 in BYNA’s the Articles of Declaration clearly states that it is our duty to share the hope of our calling when asked.

We will stand ready to give an answer for the hope of our calling, willing to share what we believe with anyone who desires to hear; this is our responsibility. Yet we acknowledge there is a difference between giving answers to questions asked and trying to convert another to our way of understanding and practice. Therefore, B’ney Yosef North America cannot and will not support or defend any attempts to evangelize the Jewish people.
(1 Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear…”)

This is no different from the Volkswagen salesperson who has a duty to share the information on the product he sells to anyone who walks in the showroom and asks. It would be unwise for him when he asks if someone needs help and they reply, “No thanks, I’m just looking,” then to proceed to make himself a nuisance by continuing on with his sales pitch. If a salesman hears through a friend of someone seeking a VW, he has an invitation to call. They do get paid for doing just that when people have made their desire known. But there is no responsibility for them to obnoxiously go through a neighborhood knocking on doors in a desperate search for someone who wants to buy a new car. That is disrespectful of people’s personal space. Let’s learn how to respect people before we attempt to unite with them for any common purpose. It is time we quit setting ourselves up as judge over who we believe will be saved. Let God sort all that out. He is capable; we are not.

Only a few people have responded to us negatively about Article 8 of the Articles of Declaration, but as of now, it is the only article with which anyone has declared disagreement. An Elder has explained to each who has expressed concern that they are misunderstanding the intent of the wording, and need to read the whole article in context. We are not contending with a command of God. No, we are contending with a technique taught in evangelical churches that does not have its root in the biblical text and is very offensive to other groups with different beliefs.

I hope this analogy to the unwanted intrusion of telephone marketers helps us see what we have done from a Jewish perspective in our attempts to sell the need for our Messiah. Marketing is a mistaken notion of our mission. If we don’t like these undesirable telephone intrusions in our life, we must first stop doing similar activities to others. We must develop our abilities to understand those not exactly like us, to be effective in beginning dialogue with those people.

We are gaining in understanding, but we have much more ground to cover before we can see results. Nobody likes to be forced in anyway. This is the reason Galatians 5:20 includes heresies in the list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Heresy is the use of force to accomplish a goal. This action will not bring about the kingdom of God. Using respect to develop trust in relationships will enable us to have those opportunities where we are asked about the hope we have. Then we can honestly share without infringement or deceit.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Written by Frank Houtz, former B’Ney Yosef North America Elder[/author_info] [/author]

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