Why Preach In Your Ads?
Some of the radio ads that we run on the air is focused on sharing the Gospel. The stations that play them are now mostly secular stations. When I felt the Lord telling me to do these commercials, I assumed that they would be played on Christian radio. I had 12 messages prepared and brought it to the station. The Christian station, at that time, said they couldn't play them. In the radio world, they were considered an "adult contemporary station that plays Christian music" and they were not allowed to share scripture, pray, or minister in any other way than playing the songs. It blew me away, because I was sure that I was supposed to do these ads.
One night, shortly after this happened, I was invited out to a Rangers game by KRLD, a local secular news, traffic, and weather station. I met the station Director for the first time and we were just getting to know each other and talking. We ended up getting on the discussion of ads and I told him about my experience with the other station. He thought it sounded strange that a Christian radio station wouldn't play something with a Christian message. He then went on to say "we'll play them!" It never crossed my mind to ask a secular station to play a Christian message on the air. I said, "wait, you are secular station, won't that offend some listeners?" He went on to say that they have some DJs that are Christians and Dave Ramsey has his program on the station, so why not give it a shot? It opened the door to a bigger thought. "What if God had a plan to reach people who did not know Him or was so turned off by church that they would never walk in the doors or turn to a Christian radio station?"
My heart is to reach the lost, but honestly it scared me to be so invasive. I am a peacekeeper and I can't stand it when everyone doesn't like me. What if people are turned off and they attack me? What if my company starts losing ground because nobody wants to do business with the guy who preaches to them? What if the contractors start dropping off because they don't want to be associated with a cooky religious fanatic? These people listening to the ads don't know me; it might make me look like I am trying to use God to make my business look honest!! Why can't I just live my life in a way that maybe someone would ask what is different about me and I could tell them my testimony? Then I could invite them to church where they could hear a real preacher and hopefully make friends and find Jesus!
However, I felt like it was something God wanted me to do....so I did it. Simple as that. I am not trying to be the next Billy Graham. I actually compare myself more to Forrest Gump. I'm just a simple guy that loves being obedient to what God asks me to do. If He puts it on my heart to do it, I just run. If you have ever heard my testimony, you would know that I have no formal education beyond high school, I have three failed marriages, I never was successful at work, and for months before my heart attack in 2011 I was praying for God to kill me. I wasn't even sure if I was a Christian anymore or at best I was a very lost Christian. When I had my heart attack, God spoke to my heart for the first time in a long time. He simply asked, "Well, John, do you want to stay or do you want to go?" Just as many at death's door say, "my life flashed before my eyes". I realized I had done nothing good with my life. If I die, very few in the world would miss me and nobody could say I was anything greater than a "nice guy". Just a handful of people would show up to the funeral and then it would be over. I was seriously leaning in that direction, because I was serious when I prayed that God kill me. I wasn't afraid, I wasn't in pain, I felt like I would just slip away and be done with it. Amazingly, in my yo-yo job history, I had a million-dollar term life insurance policy that I somehow maintained over the years and my family would get more in my death than I could ever imagine they would get in my life! What could possibly make me think I would ever be anything more than a disappointment? However, there was just one thing that kept me from choosing to go. I felt like God was saying that if I choose to stay, I would be used for His purpose and He would do it if I trust Him. I thought through it and gave God my conditions. I said "Lord, I would like to stay if that is okay with you, BUT I want to be remembered for doing something good with the rest of my life, I want to LIVE everyday NOT just be alive, and I want to touch as many people as I can for the rest of my life. Otherwise, you can take me." All I could say is it felt like if I could see into the spirit world, I would see Him dancing around my bed going "That's my boy! I can work with that! SO BE IT!"
So, I'm still here. Now I left the hospital with a severely damaged heart, 40% of my heart is scar tissue from the massive heart attack, I have to wear a pacemaker/defibrillator to keep my heart squeezing enough to get blood through my body, I'm lethargic and diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), and told I can't do anything more than walk on a treadmill for the rest of my life or I could cause my remaining heart to enlarge and die. Other than this serious heart condition and believing I now had a purpose of some sort, nothing else was different when I got home from the hospital. I was living with my girlfriend and we decided we would just go ahead and get married. She said I needed insurance and her job provided insurance. Not very romantic, but she remains the greatest miracle God put in my life.
I had a job at a company called Money Mailer, where I sold those coupons that go into the envelopes that gets mailed to homes. One day a plumber who wanted to be in the Mansfield Money Mailer said that he wanted to split the ad with a couple of other honest contractors that he trusted. It gave me the idea to build a website where several honest contractors could pool their money together to offset the cost of Money Mailer. The idea kept me up at night and I realized it might be possible that it could be its own business. Then I felt like it was something God was showing me and wanted me to do. This was the first and greatest leap of faith I had ever considered. I had no business sense, no management experience, no mentors or supporters, we were living paycheck to paycheck and had no money to invest in anything, and now I have a heart condition that slows me down considerably. Like Forrest Gump, I just ran with it. I walked into Money Mailer and told him that I wasn't going to try and build something while he was paying me to work for him. So, I quit with nothing in savings and only one more guaranteed paycheck and began talking to contractors about my idea.
Remember, I had no money, so in the beginning I was sharing my idea on a notepad and asking contractors to give me money to hold their spot. It started small in Mansfield and my first website was Mansfield Service Connection (you can still find it online). I realized the need as I talked to the contractors and they were all saying the same things about the tricks their competitors use to take advantage of people. It became clear that I was building a list of good contractors that would do business right and that I was protecting homeowners. After I got Mansfield built, I built another one in Burlseson, and then started on another in Waxahachie. Through an obstacle that changed what I had promised in the main magazine we were advertising in, I was forced to make a strategic decision. I was either going to have to go back to everyone and tell them that what the magazine had originally agreed to do was changing and they could no longer show their names and numbers on the ad, or I would have to share a much bigger idea that I believe was being given to me; "What if there was a way to reach the whole DFW area and advertise on radio and TV like the Mega-contractors do, but as a group?" So I chose to do the second and explain to them that it may take years for me to collect enough contractors around the metroplex to buy as much radio and TV as we needed to make a name for ourselves. Miraculously they all were onboard with the new idea AND continued to pay for their position on the website.
So, The Good Contractors List (TGCL), was born. I got the DBA name on 11/11/11 and collected my first check from the first contractor being shown the new idea that same day. I felt confident that the contractors I was meeting were good, because most of them were referred by one of the good guys who were adamant about protecting their reputation and doing whatever it takes to please their customers. For several months I didn't even have a website for TGCL, because it was beyond something I could build on my own and needed a web designer that could tie in a map. So, here's the sales pitch...I am building a website that separates the good guys from the bad guys, I don't know how long it is going to take, you may lose any money you invest with me, even when we get to our goal it may take a long time before enough people know about us to actually drive any calls, BUT if we can build this safe place for people, I think we will be big! I asked them for a $1000 membership fee and $30 a month to hold their spot (PHASE ONE), they agreed on a PHASE TWO payment that would be around $500 per month so that we could afford the big ads. I also told them that they would be "Founders" and that I would never raise the rate no matter how big we got. No history, no guarantees, a long time with no return on investment, meeting with a guy driving a yellow Pontiac G5, and they wrote the checks and got on auto payment for the $30 per month. We put every dime beyond the very modest bills we had, that couldn't be covered by Cindy's $18/hr job, into getting a website built. Then I added another idea that I would risk the revenue coming in to put a $10,000 guarantee on their work. Everyone thought I was crazy for agreeing to guarantee a contractor's work. It took two years to get through that first Phase, but in March of 2014 we launched into Phase Two with about 125 contractors and a $50,000 per month advertising budget. That was every dollar that was coming in through auto-draft, so I was still having to make a living by continuing to sell this to contractors.
NOW, tell me that God wasn't involved in the building of The Good Contractors List. I watched two other companies come into town to start a dynamic contractor resource. They had millions of dollars backing them and an already established name and one of them even already had thousands of contractors that bought pay-per-click ads from them! Both of them tanked in less than a year. They had teams of brilliant business leaders, managers, and sales teams, the fanciest websites, were spending WAY more than I could on advertising, and they are gone. All the while this little company started by a guy with an unimpressive resume, a feeble health condition, and an annual revenue less than their advertising spend, keeps on growing and gaining in popularity. What did I do that was different? Forrest Gump. Whatever I felt led to do was what I did and nothing more. I have never had five year goals, when asked "are you going to take this National?" I can only respond, "I don't know yet." With a business plan like mine, (limit the amount of money you can make by limiting the number of contractors and put the company at greater risk by offering a $10,000 guarantee on EVERY job a contractor on the list does) it is not the easiest model to invest in or repeat. It isn't a business plan, it's a Kingdom of God plan, and I do what I feel led to do. I'm simply not smart enough to do anything else other than what He shows me or convicts me to do. It would be a great ego trip if I could say that it is was all me.
So why do I preach in my ads? Because I believe that is what God wants me to do right now. Yes, I get called names and many of those things I feared is happening. I have seen posts on social media and other websites that trash me. I have had people who have never used my company go write bad reviews because of my ads. I have had people say they wish my heart attack would have finished me off. Scathing emails are sent through my contact form and most of them never leave a real name or email address. However, there are a few that have contacted us to say that something I said in a ONE MINUTE RADIO AD changed their life. Someone called the other day and said that only two men in his whole life has ever profoundly impacted him with something they said, and I was one of them (one minute radio ad). I have had people ask to meet me for coffee, because they felt God wanted them to talk to me. I take those meetings and every single time...GOD shows up and we all leave different. So, I run the ads out of obedience, but seeing these (yes, fewer in number) people being touched by God and their lives being changed, is worth anything the haters throw at me. If I lost my company and I was right back where I started (I still don't have a savings account believe it or not), I have to trust that it is all part of God's plan for my life and purpose. Since the day I walked out of the hospital with a purpose, I have never questioned what is happening in my life. If good things happen or seemingly bad things, I know that I get my reward when I am dead and gone. My only purpose for still being here is to do what He tells me and share His Gospel everywhere and with everyone He tells me to share it with.
If you want to know my story a little more in-depth, I have written a book I give away for free at www.tgclstory.homestead.com You can buy it on Amazon too ( http://a.co/d/ejalMVu ), but if you want a copy, you can just send me your address and I will mail you a copy for free.
If anyone wants to contact me directly, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org Whether you want to cuss me out or tell me I'm doing a good job, I would love to hear from you! Thanks for reading this far and have a blessed day!!