Sunday’s sermon: A Gospel Warm Call

  • Tell me if this sounds familiar this morning:

Hi [prospect’s name], this is [your name] from [your company name].

I’ve been doing some research on [prospect’s company name] and I’d love to learn more about [challenge you’ve discovered in your research].

At [your company name] we work with people like you to help with [value proposition 1, value proposition 2, and value proposition 3.]

Is this something you think could help with [common challenges/pain points]?

Option 1: Yes, tell me more.

Great! [This is where you’re going to ask them to attend a demo, or continue the conversation with an Account Executive, or take whatever next steps are part of your sales process.]

Option 2: Objection

I understand. Is it ok if I send you a follow-up email to review at your convenience? Then I can follow up with you tomorrow.

If yes, send the email and set a reminder to follow up. If not, thank them for their time and ask if there’s another point of contact they can connect you with. Make sure to include resources that clearly explain what your company does and ask to continue the conversation.[1]

    • Cold calls … everyone’s favorite thing, right? Don’t we just love making those calls? Don’t we just love getting those calls? No? If by chance you aren’t familiar with the concept of the “cold call,” let me give you a short description (from same website where I found the script): A cold call is when sales reps reach out to a potential buyer who’s never interacted with them or their company before, with the intent to sell a product or service. Cold calling typically makes use of a sales pitch script to ensure reps sell the product effectively. It’s a common practice in outbound sales. Cold calling is a way to engage prospects one-on-one to move them to the next step in the buying process. In the past, cold calling meant using a “spray and pray” method, spending time making intrusive calls with no prior qualification, hoping that your message would resonate with someone. But that’s no longer the way to do it. Not only does it waste time and energy, but you end up facing more rejections than you normally would, which can quickly lead to burnout. → Now, contrary to that last bit about the “spray and pray” method no longer being “the way we do it,” I think we’re all familiar with the distinctly 21st century, technology-driven spin that cold calls have taken on in the last 20 yrs. or so: the ever-present, ever-frustrating robo-calls.
      • Calls that are made by a computer → dials multiple numbers at once → often no one on the other end of the line → if you do happen to get “someone” on the other end, it’s more than likely a prerecorded message … something to do with the warranty on your vehicle, your cell phone carrier, or the way you did or didn’t vote in the last election.
    • So what is it about cold calls that we find so annoying? Why do they have such a persistent tendency to ratchet up our blood pressure and get under our skin? I think the answer comes most readily in the very beginning of that cold call script that I read: Hi [prospect’s name]. Do me a favor this morning: raise your hand if you’ve ever been the recipient of a cold call … and they pronounced your name incorrectly!
      • Growing up (pre-caller ID): always knew telemarketer was calling when they asked for Mr. or Mrs. PINE-Y (maiden name: Pinney … short i)
      • That greeting – especially when your name is mispronounced – is so There’s no real connecting in it, so it feels disingenuous. I mean, you can’t even pronounce my name correctly … how invested in my life and how your product/company can actually improve my life can you possibly be, right? You don’t know me. You don’t know my life. You’re only trying to sell me a product or a service.
        • Always felt equally annoyed and sorry for people working as telemarketers (anyone here?) → it’s a job, right? … a job that requires callers to make quotas, often a job in which your take-home pay is directly related to how effective you are a “closing the deal” … how effective your cold calls are → I’ll tell y’all right now … I certainly couldn’t do it.
    • Started looking into the whole phenomenon of cold calling because of the nature of our Scripture reading this morning → You see, we have lots of Paul’s letters to different churches in different towns and territories. In fact, other than the gospels, Paul’s letters – Paul’s epistles, as they’re often referred to in “church-y speak” – make up the next largest portion of the New Testament.
      • All of Paul’s other letters = to churches and faith communities that he himself had established throughout his extensive mission journeys
      • But the book of Romans is different. Paul himself didn’t establish the Christian community in Rome.
        • Paul = taken to Rome twice during his decades of ministry → both times = as a prisoner → spent 2+ yrs. under house arrest at one point → ended up writing 4 of his 14 epistles while in Rome (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon)[2] → But he was never a free man in Rome. The Christian community in Rome is one that grew up through the encouragement and organization of others.
    • And yet it’s abundantly clear from the very outset of this particular letter – from those very first verses that we just read – that Paul want to get to know these Roman Christians. → makes Paul’s letter less of a gospel cold call than what’s referred to in the business/marketing world as a “warm call”
      • Differences[3]:
        • Cold call: unexpected, early in the sales process, based on general research (if any) – demographics and patterns, interruptive, prioritizes “seller first”
        • Warm call: expected, comes later in the sales process → built on established prior introduction = therefore invited, based on more personalized research, prioritizes “buyer first”
        • In essence, a cold call is exactly as its named – cold because it’s impersonal – whereas a warm call is based on a relationship.
  • So Paul’s letter to the Romans this morning is a warm call for the good news of the gospel. → Paul makes it clear from the very outset that “relationship” is at the very heart of his correspondence
    • Two different kinds of relationships
      • FIRST, relationship with God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit → This is the paramount relationship for Paul – the genesis of all the rest of our relationships. He spends much of this introduction … much of this whole letter … much of many of his letters extoling the essential nature of a relationship with God and the blessing that such a relationship can be to us.
        • Today’s text starts by giving the basic rundown of the good news of the gospel (Paul’s “elevator speech,” if you will – the good news of who Jesus Christ was and is for us in 5 verses): God promised the good news about his Son ahead of time through his prophets and in the holy scriptures. His Son was descended from David. He was publicly identified as God’s Son with power through his resurrection from the dead, which was based on the Spirit of holiness. This Son is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we have received God’s grace and our appointment to be apostles. This was to bring all Gentiles to faithful obedience for his name’s sake. You who are called by Jesus Christ are also included among these Gentiles.[4]
        • Goes on to lift up the ways the truth of that gospel relationship is a blessing to us – scholar: The gospel is a living entity — a power. It is God’s power … and its purpose is salvation. The whole focus and purpose of the power of the gospel is saving, healing, making right. The gospel is not a power that seeks power for itself. Rather, God’s power (the gospel) is entirely directed towards salvation. The goal of the gospel (of God’s power) is salving humanity’s needs and hurts.[5] → It is for this very reason – this salvation, this healing, this making right, this salving of humanity’s needs and hurts – that God poured all of God’s love, all of God’s hope, all of God’s promise into this relationship with humanity through Jesus Christ. This relationship is quite literally The Point. To quote a beloved children’s book, it is all that we hope for and all that we seek.[6]
          • Nurturing that relationship with God = our ultimate “why”
            • Why we come to church
            • Why we read Scripture
            • Why we pray
            • “Why” that gets us through our day
      • Also the “why” that feeds into the 2nd type of relationships that Paul emphasizes: our relationships with one another
        • Much of the 2nd part of passage for this morning = devoted to interpersonal relationships → specifically interpersonal relationships … but even more pointedly interpersonal relationships that are based in and informed by faith.
          • Begins as Paul often does: by assuring the Roman Christians that Paul thanks God for them → I think that we often breeze through that when we’re reading Paul. Maybe it’s because Paul says it to every church in every letter, so we’re too used to seeing it. Maybe it’s because we read it too contextually – like Paul is saying that only to them without taking those words into our own faith lives. But stop and think about that for a minute. Paul is saying to these people who he’s never actually met that “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you.”[7] How often do you tell the people who are a part of your everyday lives that you thank God for them? Let alone people you’ve never met? Imagine it!
            • Closest that I think we get nowadays = occasional letters we get at the church from another Session within the bounds of the presbytery → praying their way through the different congregations within the presbytery at each of their meetings → They don’t know who we are – not on a personal level, anyway. They don’t know what particular ministries we’re undertaking or challenges we’re facing. But as siblings in Christ, they took the time at the beginning of their own Session meeting to lift up our congregation in prayer.
            • Connection through faith in Christ = what makes Paul’s letter not a cold call for the gospel but a warm call → a call based on established commonalities, based on a shared faith, based on relationship
        • Paul also makes it clear in this portion of his letter that this relationship shouldn’t be hindered by all those barriers that we have a tendency to erect between ourselves and others → particular to Paul’s world = different btwn Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians … but his words can be just as applicable to bridging all those differences that separate us as well – text: We can mutually encourage each other while I am with you. We can be encouraged by the faithfulness we find in each other, both your faithfulness and mine. … I have a responsibility both to Greeks and to those who don’t speak Greek, to both the wise and to the foolish.[8]
    • Finally, Paul grounds this portion of his letter in the power and purpose and source of faith: I’m not ashamed of the gospel: it is God’s own power for salvation to all who have faith in God, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. God’s righteousness is being revealed in the gospel, from faithfulness for faith, as it is written, The righteous person will live by faith.[9]
      • Scholar: The righteousness of God revealed in the gospel is rooted in God’s astonishing and undeviating faithfulness to God’s creation, including fickle humanity. The righteousness of God is a profoundly loving and faithful revelation to us. The revelation in the gospel can be known only in the way in which it was offered — by faith. … Yet, even our faith is rooted in God’s faithfulness. Our faith is not ‘ours’. … Our faith is sourced in God’s faithfulness to us [“from faithfulness for faith,” as Paul puts it]. Our faith is part of the cosmic and wondrous revelation in the gospel. … Our faith makes us righteous, not because we have been good enough to believe in the gospel, but because the righteousness of God surrounds us as we exercise the faith that God gives us.[10] → And what better way to explore that faith … to experience that faith … to express that faith than to immerse ourselves in our relationship with God and to share it through our relationships with one another? Amen.


[1] Script pulled from


[3] Compiled from lists found on and

[4] Rom 1:2-6.

[5] L Ann Jervis. “Commentary on Romans 1:1-17” from Working Preacher,

[6] Douglas Wood. Old Turtle. (New York: Scholastic Press), 1992.

[7] Rom 1:8.

[8] Rom 1:12, 14.

[9] Rom 1:16-17.

[10] Jervis.

Text used – Romans 1:1-17

One response to “Sunday’s sermon: A Gospel Warm Call

  1. Pingback: Sunday’s sermon: The Meaning of Grace | Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

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