I don’t know when or how I cam across the first episode I watched of American Pickers, but as soon as I watched that first episode I was hooked. Have you have seen the show on the history channel with Mike and Frank? I think it is the treasure hunter in me that is attracted to the show as they search out “rusty gold.”
I could spend hours and hours talking about the show and some of the finds. Lately I have noticed some things in the show that have me thinking about how we share our faith. If you have seen the show you know that one of their favorite things to do is go “free styling.” That means they have no plan of who they going to buy from rather they just drive around and stop at any house that looks like it might be loaded with items they would want to buy. Now, I am sure the show is edited for TV and sometimes they get rejected, but many times they do not. Some person will come to the door with their arms crossed or saying “we don’t want to buy any.” Over the next few minutes they work to breakdown barriers and unfold people’s arms. As I watched this week I thought about how we are often required to so the same thing when we share our faith.
So here are some lessons I see from watching Mike and Frank on American Pickers.
1. Show respect to people Right up front they tell them they are their to buy items. They hand them a flyer of the items they purchase. They acknowledge their ownership and are clear about their purpose. It is always best to avoid a “Bait and Switch.”
2. Ask them about themselves and let them share their story. Once they state their purpose they ask the people about all of their stuff. How long have you lived here? What is the family history? They rarely begin by talking about items. With their purpose in mind they try and get those arms uncrossed and the mouth moving.
3. Show interest in the person and their things. If a person is into something particular they focus the conversation on that item. Some people collect toys, others collect bikes, some collect signs, and other collect everything. When someone is interested in an item they will talk about it for hours. This breaks down the final barriers and opens the door to ask about prices. People want to talk about themselves and the things they enjoy long before they get any kind of sales pitch.
4. If you hit an emotional nerve, its okay to back away. Sometimes they will come across a piece given to the owner by a relative or friend. Seeing they hit an emotional nerve, they simply move on to another item. Everyone has areas they are sensitive about, we need to be keenly aware of it.
5. Not every encounter will be a big score. Sometimes Mike and Frank find a huge item and buy it cheap and make a huge profit. Often they buy smalls and make just a few bucks, but if you have watched the show long enough, they often return to the same place in the future and pick again. Honestly, I rarely share the gospel in its complete form. I usually say a line here and a line there until the day they are ready for that big talk. One positive impression for Christ is better than none.
If you watch the show, pay close attention to the people skills that Mike and Frank have developed when they talk to strangers. It might help you to improve your skills in sharing Jesus with anyone.