Should Christian Facebook Groups Forbid Or Encourage Commerce?

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Posted: May 10, 2018 10:59 AM
Should Christian Facebook Groups Forbid Or Encourage Commerce?

“Why did you delete my comment?”

I had joined a Facebook group and had contributed to it over the weeks I had joined. Part of any marketing campaign is getting you and your message out to your potential clients and customers. One way you accomplish accomplish this is by visiting and contributing to the discussions, especially Q&As, related to your business. 

Invariably, posting to a forum requires your name, email, and website (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) so if any reader is interested, they can click on your name and find out more about you. Give great information or content at these sites and others may want to connect professionally via LinkedIn (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) or even purchase your products or services.

You will almost always learn something from the sites you visit. But when you contribute by making relevant comments, it becomes a win/win/win situation for all. The website provides and gets good content from comments, the reader gets good content, and anyone contributing to the content gets noticed. 

But not this time. 

SPAMMING, stifling, or squelching God-given solutions?

I had answered many questions helping others out in this Facebook group. Nine out of ten times, people don’t say a thing or thank others for the help they received from a good comment. No matter; most people have a consumer, not a producer, mindset. Hopefully, one day they’ll wake up to see how they short-change others and themselves. But that’s for another article.

This time was different. The answer I provided gave good information and even referenced my first book for further information based on their question. It had more than enough answers to her question and I didn’t want to write a full answer out again. I had done that in my book, and I saw it as an opportunity to get paid for my experience. The Facebook group was an author’s site. I’m an entrepreneur and author; similar but different, like cake and donuts.

Next thing I know, the Facebook group owner was chatting with me. While polite and courteous, I was told why they had deleted the one and only time I was telling others of my product, my book. They said I was SPAMMING the group.

Really?

The definition of SPAM is: 1) irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients; 2) unwanted or intrusive advertising on the Internet: [as modifier]: an auto-generated spam website.

It was not my Facebook group or website. The owner could do anything he/she wanted to with this forum. It was no different than any other person who owns property, real or digital. I respect that about others and myself. God blessed them. I’m to respect what God has blessed them with.

But this verse came to mind when I saw that the solution, or solutions, to the person’s question was readily available through what I sell. 

Luke 11:33  No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light.

And again,

Prov 3:27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it.

No one else had helped, yet I was being told that while my comment was good, offering my book was unacceptable. I was advertising my product to others and the group owner was stifling and squelching my soft offer to sell my book: “Here’s my book which might help,” versus a hard sell, “BUY my book!”

Understood. I get it.

Beware of lurkers. I am not a lurker who jumps in and says, “Buy, BUY, B.U.Y! my product here!” the minute an opportunity arises. I’ve even had it done to my website and Facebook groups. You know, like when you’re attending a networking event and people shove their business card into your hand. Then they begin pitching you what they sell without asking if you’re in need of what they’re selling, right now! Like a Ford salesman selling his product on a Chevy car lot. Not me. I help first.

Beware of sponges. Nor am I a sponge, listening in on the conversations, gathering information without saying a word, learning without contributing, and then heading off with the best answers and selling them as my own. I’m not one of these popular, “Earn Six Figures Coaching” gurus. I’m a solopreneur trying to help another person out at that very moment.

There is a difference between whether one offers a competing or a complimentary product, an “either/or” versus an “and” product or service. Goodyear versus Firestone tires versus complementing the sale of either tire by selling ArmorAll. I was, in my view, complementing this group’s information, contributing, learning, and sharing what I knew with others. It’s what I do. 

But from the customer’s perspective, they lost the opportunity to solve their problems. The group owner had shut down any opportunity to further help this person out beyond a simple answer.

The laborer is worthy of his wages, but selling safe-spaces?

I had spent my time, experience, and energy helping others in the group. I wasn’t expecting much of an ROI (Return On Investment) to fill my wallet. But I was always hopeful that my advice would hit pay dirt for those who received it and that they would get good benefits from my advice. 

Nine out of ten times, I give free advice. But this one time, I was hoping I could sell what I had created and earn some extra money for my efforts. Yet the opportunity to earn – something, ANYTHING! – was was being squelched. The vendor, the owner of the Facebook group, shut down the opportunity for the customer to get a solution to their problems. It’s a familiar habit I see in others, but it’s more hurtful than that.

1 Tim 5:18 For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING [Deu 25:4],” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages [Luke 10:7].”

Couple the above verse with this verse.

1 Thess 5:19 Do not quench the Spirit;

I have seen the spirit of people bleed a slow death of a thousand cuts because others failed to pay them for their efforts and work. You know, “I can find it cheaper on the internet,” or “Can you show me how to do that?” I even saw a reality TV show episode where the Christian host was “thankful” that a carpet layer took five hours to teach his teenage sons how to install carpet when the carpet job would have taken him about two hours to complete. Did he pay the carpet layer to train his children? That’s not the impression I took away from the show.

It’s one extreme where one doesn’t want to pimp or prostitute (or SPAM) one’s talents and products and services for a buck to any and every person or organization that has an interest in what one offers. If you’re Apple and you ban all PCs from your campus, or a Ford dealer banning Chevy on its lot, I get it. But it’s another extreme when religious, over-branding, or just plain business-ignorant or myopic Christians who over-control their real or digital property and create selling safe-spaces, i.e. no selling allowed. Christians should be about collaboration, not competition. 

We’re to be stewards, not stingy, with our God-given resources

My wife and I saw the movie, The Man Who Invented Christmas. The movie is about Charles Dickens when he was creating the 1843, A Christmas Carol story. If you ever want to understand what an author goes through in having mental conversations with his/her characters, this is the movie to see. You will get the idea of what it takes to write strong characters. We watched as the character Dickens agonized over the character’s name, Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge was actually a made-up. However, it was not until I was reading my Bible one morning and saw the definition of Ebenezer that the full meaning of character’s name choice came into the full light.

In 1 Samuel chapters 4-7, Israel fights and loses to the Philistines. In chapter seven, Israel removes the foreign gods from their midst, appeals to and trusts God, then they won their battle against the Philistines. Samuel set up a stone and named it Ebenezer, “stone of help,” so that “thus far the Lord has helped us.” Combining Ebenezer, “stone of help,” with his made up and negative sounding name, “Scrooge,” and you get the full meaning of the name Ebenezer Scrooge. As rich man Ebenezer, he was expected to help others from his wealth, but as Scrooge, he was stingy with his wealth. He had turned into a penny-pincher, money-grubber, cheapskate, tightwad, and piker. But after visits from three ghosts, with his changed heart, he became generous. Like Scrooge, Christians today are stingy with their money. Not only do they not want to pay others for their work, but some, like the Facebook group owner, prevent and restrict people from earning a living.

Being generous is less about giving help to those who need it and more about investing in others, investing is a higher form of giving. It’s offering someone a job, or in the case of me offering my book for sale, paying me for my work so I can pay for my own shelter and food. Those that pay for what they receive generally have a higher desire for and take action with what is bought. 

Failure to pay others means failure to invest. When one fails to pay another when the “laborer is worthy of his wages,” it hurts everyone, whether the customer fails to pay the laborer for their efforts, OR, won’t allow or prevents a laborer from being paid for their products or service. Failure to pay someone for their work both demeans and disrespects God and the laborer’s God-given talents and abilities to serve another human being with their talents and abilities.

“Some of us are like the Dead Sea, always taking in but never giving out, because we are not rightly related to the Lord Jesus.”

-- Oswald Chambers

How will you change your Scrooge-like habits? How will you take the sting out of stingy with your human, social, cultural, and financial capital, to become more generous, no matter the type or amount or side of the transaction, investor or investee?