I recently came across a couple of articles on being more persuasive. Obviously, this article was probably written for those who are in the sales industry – always looking for a way to seal a deal. Initially, you may think, “What does this have to do with me? I’m a pastor, not a sales person.” That’s where you’d be wrong.

Being persuasive is very important in our roles. Like it or not, we’re all in the sales industry. We’re not selling cars or houses, but ideas, vision and life-changing opportunities. Time and time again, you’ll encounter parents, potential volunteers or even staff who don’t think the way you do. They don’t value what you value and you have an opportunity to convince them to see things your way, jump into serving kids or make some budget adjustments that favor the Children’s Ministry. The more persuasive you are, the more successful you’ll be in many areas. So, I’m starting a smal series on persuasion starting with this post.

Something important to remember is that persuasion is an art. Much of persuasion is subconscious. People may or may not agree with you for reasons they can’t put their finger on or explain. I’m not talking about manipulating people, but you’d be foolish not to take advantage of subconscious cues that may help people hear you out and get on board.

Find Common Ground First

Before trying to convince someone of your way of thinking, find something to agree on first. That agreement has residual effects. When you work from a place of agreement, people will be more likely to agree with you or trust you when you try to persuade them of something else. Address the worldview of the person you’re trying to persuade and make statements that they can agree with. At times, this can create a compelling argument.

Cathy Harwick, one of my children’s pastor’s at Gateway does this really well. I recognized this when we were transitioning volunteers from serving twice a month to serving every week. In the process of convincing existing (or future volunteers) of the need for serving every week, she’s make statements like this:

“You want the very best for your child, right? So do we. Think about this for a second with me. If you had your choice, would you want your child in a room where the volunteers were the same every week or a room where the volunteers were different every week? What do you think is best for your child? It makes sense that we’d want to offer the very best for every kid here at Gateway, right?”

Honestly, I’ve found that it’s just as easy to recruit people to serve every week as it used to be to recruit them to serve twice a month. Maybe I’m better at persuading people, but I do feel that helping future volunteers find agreement first makes it a lot easier to bring them on board.

If you’re interested in more research on this idea, I did find a study showing how this works. Click here to download that paper.