Should You Advertise as Christian Owned?

by Brad Harmon on October 6, 2009 in Sales & Marketing

jesus fish business card 503x287 - marketplace christianity

Photo courtesy of FreePrintableBusinessCards.com

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?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurie Neumann October 16, 2009 at 8:40 am

Good topic, Brad. My business name gives me away:-) I had to decide if I wanted to market to other Christians or go wide and attract anyone who wanted to have a home business. I decided to “niche” and go with Christians. That was who was coming to my site anyway, and quite honestly, I would find it really difficult to keep God out of it during my coaching, etc.

My services are based on biblical principles such as honesty and integrity. I am not going to preach a sermon to anyone I work with, but, I do want them to know upfront, that God will be honored in my business. The way I see it, God is part of everything I do – business included.

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Brad Harmon October 16, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Thanks Laurie! Great comments. I like what Zig Ziglar has to say about it, “Over 90% of the people believe in God, so why would I want to offend 90% of my friends by not talking about what they believe in?” It is easy to check your religion at the door of an employer or client, but as Christians we can never check God at the door.

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Laurie Neumann October 16, 2009 at 3:07 pm

I agree with you and Zig:-)

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monetizemylife October 24, 2009 at 11:31 pm

I totally agree brad!

I've never felt the need to advertise my christianity. Because it's not something that seems like it should be advertised. It's part of who I am. It's part of my character. I don't advertise that I'm a male and that I have “male owned and operated business.” I don't tell people that I'm married, or that I'm blond, or that I've got a new baby. Could you just see me plastering on my business cards “Business owned and operated by a twenty-something blond married christian father of one”?

It seems ridiculous to me. My faith isn't something that I must tell you you about for you to know… if I have to tell you that I'm a christian for you to know… then I've failed.

I guess their could be a place for it in your online interactions, where your only communication is text-based. But like you've said… you'd really better have a good reason for doing so.

Also, as a side note – I highly recommend you read a book called “So you don't want to go to church anymore” You can get a digital copy for free at Jake Colsen’s website. It has radically altered the way I think about my faith. I would love it if you'd read it and tell me what your thoughts are.

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monetizemylife October 24, 2009 at 10:32 pm

Very insightful article Brad. I've been a christian for many years and spent five years studying my faith at a wonderful christian college. I've spent another three years studying in an intensive seminar style. I've traveled the world with my faith… and after all of this, I think that most of my brothers and sisters in the faith have it wrong when it comes to their interactions with the world. Not that I have it all right… by no mean. I've just come to understand that we as christians need to engage with people in real ways. We don't need to tell them that we are Christians. They will know us by our love. If we have to tell someone that we are christian or tell them that our business is christian owned, then we are doing something wrong… it should be fairly obvious by your interactions and they way you treat the people you serve.

What are your thoughts on this?

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Brad Harmon October 24, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Richard,

Have you ever wondered if they held a trial and charged you with being a Christian if there would be enough evidence to convict? People inherently know what a Christian should look like, talk like, act like. They are quick to point it out when you are not living up to it too – most of the time they are correct.

Sadly, most people who have worn the name Christian have drug it through the mud. I think many people are surprised if, when you announce you are a Christian, you are not a judgmental, narrow-minded, bigoted hypocrite. They seldom see the true Christianity where we are known by our love one for another.

I don't know that it is wrong to announce that you are a Christian, but you sure better live up to the name or it will do you (and others) more harm than good.

As a Christian entrepreneur, you should have a deliberate and clear-cut reason why you decide to advertise your business that way. The standards instantly become much higher and the repercussions of falling short much greater. It needs to be more than just slapping on a Jesus fish.

Brad

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Brad Harmon October 25, 2009 at 12:22 pm

I will add it to my book list. Thanks for the suggestion.

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