Churches & Car Dealerships

Car SalesmanIs there anything in life more frustrating than buying a car? Last week my wife and I attempted to replace one of our vehicles. It seems that every time I step on a car lot it tests my Christianity–that day was no exception. At one point during the “trial,” while the manager was making a dramatic last-ditch effort to make a sale, I wanted to ask “do I have the word stupid tattooed on my forehead or something?” I kept my cool, but I sent him back to his secret manager’s lair without a sale.

Don’t misunderstand, I realize dealerships are in the business to make money and salesmen are just trying to earn a living. I don’t fault them for that, but the truth is, buying a car is about as much fun as having your fingernails pulled out with a pair of needle-nosed plyers. Through the years, I have owned various brands: Chevrolet, Ford, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Mazda, but my experience was usually the same. I believe both car dealerships and churches might benefit from some of the things I wanted to say to the dealership that day:

  • I’m not the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. Believe it or not, I actually have a brain. I’ve done some reading and research in my life. I can think, evaluate, and make decisions. Don’t talk down to me.
  • Give me some space. Sometimes I like to window-shop a little before being bombarded with the “sales pitch.” I expect a “sales pitch” and I’m ok with that, but just give me some space first. Let me just “kick the tires” for a while. If I really like them, I will buy them from you and a car to go with them!
  • Be honest with me. We all know the stereotype that car salesmen are dishonest. In many cases, they probably earned that reputation. The church is sometimes viewed the same way, so honesty is paramount to me.
  • Don’t play games and don’t play me. There’s nothing I hate much more than “being played.” Almost everyone I know feels the same way. Car dealerships, churches, salesmen, and preachers should be transparent and genuine.
  • Give me the facts and give them to me fast. How long can it possibly take to calculate the value of my trade-in? I looked up the Kelly Blue Book price on the internet in 5 minutes before I left the house! Don’t go on and on–it won’t change the facts. Give me the facts and I’ll make a decision.
  • Sale, but don’t oversale. I came expecting a sale, but don’t go overboard or you will turn me off for sure.

Boy oh boy…..I feel so much better now that I got that off my chest. Thanks for allowing me to vent. Let me end with this question, “how often does an unchurched person want to make these same statements to us after he visits one of our churches?”

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Comments

  1. Shelly Johns says:

    Excellent, Dr. Steve! Words of wisdom for sure!

  2. I’m sorry that all of your experiences have been so terrible at car dealerships, but this is a very unfair article. You have stereotyped and maligned all dealerships. I personally know several upstanding car dealers who are honest and truly love the Lord and want to honor the Him. One of them is my husband to whom I have been married for 46 years. If I were a member of your congregation, I think I would be hurt by this article because you seem to compare your church to something you to despise. Romans 12:21

    • Steve Rice says:

      Mrs. Ruth Ann, you make several excellent points. If I offended you or unfairly represented your honest husband, I sincerely apologize. I actually have a son who was a car salesman for a while at a very good dealership where they treated customers fairly. I intended my message to be more about the way newcomers are treated in a local church than about car dealerships, but I may not have accomplished that very well.

      I appreciate you coming to the defense of your husband. You made me think of other good men and women that I know who are both good Christians and honest car salespersons. So again, I apologize for any offense.

      With all that being said, I do believe there is much corruption and deception in the car industry. What is much more sad is that there is corruption and deception in many churches and in the lives of many of us who call ourselves Christians.

      Mrs. Ruth Ann, thanks for reading the original post and thank you for your pointed, honest comments.

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