business church social networking

Trust Agents 4b: Leverage

And I don’t just mean a really cool TV series starring Timothy Hutton.

Leverage is where Chris Brogan and Julien Smith take us throughout the second half of chapter four.  Leveraging while building trust with your community, leveraging social media, tools we use in order to leverage better, etc.  But it was one sentence toward the middle of chapter four that’s been swirling around in my brain for the last few days…

“Don’t ever sell to your audience.  Instead, be their gatekeeper.”

Wow.  I think we should all take a moment of silence to let this sink in.

Okay, got it? Simple right?  Not so much.  Why? Because we love to be in control!  We want to be the one who blows our own whistle, toots our own horn, shouts our own brand that we’re so very proud of and passionate about (with good reason) from the rooftops.  We want to control the things that people are saying about us by telling them what to say.  But is all of that really necessary?  Do people trust someone who is continually selling, always pushing, and never listening?  The answer, my friends, is a big fat NO.

The beauty (and challenge) of being a gatekeeper is that if we’re worth talking about people will talk about us because they want to and because we’ve learned to leverage with finesse.

This reminds me of Jesus.  You know how He would heal people and then ask them not to tell anyone else about what had happened?  How crazy is that?  Its incredibly counter intuitive but it worked.  His message was so clear and his approach so genuine that even when He commanded people to keep their mouths shut they would run into town as fast as they could to tell the story of their encounter with this extraordinary God man.

I work full-time in ministry and this whole idea of becoming a gatekeeper has really got me wondering…

What if the church stopped trying to sell themselves to the world and began using innovative pathways to reach more people with genuine compassion and service?

What if we reduced our “old school” marketing budgets and made such a huge difference in the lives of the families in a 10 mile radius that they couldn’t help but tell everyone they know about their experience?

What if we actually practiced the very profound advice of St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words”?

And beyond that, how does this idea of leveraging with finesse translate to the business world, your online community, and relational network?

What are some innovative ways you’ve seen (or tried yourself) to become more of a gatekeeper than a salesman?

Did it work?

[image by andycoan]

Jan Cox is a Christ-follower, wife & mother, youth ministry lifer, comedy connoisseur, story teller, jet skier, social media junkie, animal rescuer, people watcher. She blogs at

About the author

Jan Cox

Jan is a christ-follower, wife & mother, youth ministry lifer, comedy connoisseur, story teller, jet skier, social media junkie, animal rescuer, & people watcher. She blogs at and facilitates an online conversation for students and the people that care about them at


  • I think that is wonderful advice. We should only provide things that help others – blogs, tweets, articles, links, etc. Then people will love to read out stuff and will tell their friends about those things too.

  • Wish churches would begin to consider your proposition of investing the marketing budget into the community in need around them. And would have to be done with an attitude of humility, not expecting to march those who were helped in front of your congregation so you can pat yourself on the back.

    Phil – so glad I joined twitter with a desire to just connect. Glad to have met you and so many others there. Maybe I do need a strategy to be more purposeful about how I leverage that, what do you think?

  • I think this is great advice, but it seems like such a gray area. For example, when I write blog articles I think I do a pretty good job of writing out of a genuine desire to help the people who read the blog. But there are definitely times when I think, "How can I word the title or the tweet about it a way that will get more people to read it?" or "What can I say that will get more people to comment or link to it?"

    Think about your church… I'm sure all its ministries are done for the benefit of the people, but do you ever feel pressure to "sell" people on whatever activities you're "promoting" in the announcements and the program/bulletin?

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