You can find them just about everywhere and on everything. Christian business owners proudly displaying their faith by displaying the “Jesus Fish” on their company’s advertising. I wonder how many of them really thought about it before they did it?
Melanie Hope writes about slapping the Jesus Fish on the bottom of her website without giving it much thought until someone questioned her about it. This got her thinking about whether she was excluding a large portion of her customer base with her declaration of faith.
She goes on to examine the inner conflict Christian business owners face in wanting to be true to their faith without losing potential customers. What do you think? Does displaying your Christianity in your small business limit your customer base? If so, what type of customers is it attracting?
“They Just Cleaned the Carpets and Left!”
Some will automatically disqualify your company due to your proclamation of faith. People have become distrustful of the motives of business owners that bring their faith into their business.
It reminds me of the episode of Seinfeld where George is upset that he was not recruited into a cult that operated the Sunshine Carpet Cleaners.
He exclaims in disgust, “They just cleaned the carpets and left! They call themselves a cult?”
Some will assume that your advertising is a sign you will attempt to convert them as part of your business. There may even be a few George’s that wonder why you couldn’t be bothered to convert them if they become your customers.
It’s important that you clearly define why you’re advertising your faith. If your intention is to run your business as a ministry then be up front with your customers. If not, then explain why you’re making the point to highlight it.
“Mine, Mine, Mine”
You will attract other Christians by openly advertising your faith in your small business. People have a natural affinity to live and trade with those who share their customs, religion, and ethnicity.
If you think this makes it easier to satisfy them as customers, you may be wrong. While it is true that birds of a feather flock together, you will want to be wary that they are not like the birds in the movie Nemo fighting over every little fish in the sea. Many will be looking for the “family discount” to which they feel entitled.
It’s not only fellow believers that will expect you to lower your prices. Many believe that Christians should always be the low cost provider – they assume making a profit is the same as loving money (or the root of all evil) and you should be avoiding this.
Remember, Christ said in Luke 10:7 that the “the labourer is worthy of his hire.” If you’re providing a quality product or service you deserve to be paid a fair price.
Let Him Have Thy Cloak Also
There are those that will expect you to provide extra products or services for no additional charge, or expect you to always provide these to a church or charity pro bono. This can quickly siphon your profits, and take up valuable time and resources that otherwise would be generating profits from more reasonable customers.
Of course, some principles in the Bible are costly to follow. What do you do with verses like Matthew 5:40 though?
“And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.”
Does this prevent you from suing to collect monies owed? Will some customers refuse to pay you or severely delay payment in preference of other less understanding businesses?
What Does the Bible Say About Business Anyway?
The Bible directly, or indirectly, mentions money over 800 times! When we slap the Jesus Fish on our businesses we raise the standards to the highest possible level. Unfortunately, even Christians disagree how to apply these passages.
Don’t leave it up to your customers to assume the meaning, or you will only set yourself up to be compared against vastly different standards which you will likely not fare well against. Explain what it means in your business.
Even Fish Slappers Deserve a Second Chance
My advice is to take a second look at why you want to advertise your business as Christian owned. Even if you don’t advertise your business this way, will you operate it in the same manner?
If you decide to continue to advertise your faith, then you should clearly define what that means for your customers in writing. Include it in your “About Us” page or as an answer on your “FAQ” page.
Too many of us are guilty of being fish slappers without giving it much thought. I’ve barely scratched the surface on issues you might face by advertising your business as Christian owned, but hopefully I’ve made you think about the choice you’ve made.
Do you advertise your faith in your business? What response have you experienced?