Sunday, November 11, 2012

Jesus Plus…NOTHING!

Well, Halloween has come and gone, but the candy wrappers still linger. This year, my family celebrated the devil's birthday (I know…I'm bad) with a rousing round of trick-or-treating in our friend's well stocked neighborhood. It was lots of fun and the kiddies plastic jack-o-lanterns were overflowing with goodies.

The next day I noticed that some good hearted soul had given out gospel tracts along with the sugary stuff. Honestly, I was quite thrilled to see this that is until I began to flip through said document. Yes, it presented the gospel alright, but long with it were several pages devoted completely to advertising a particular area church. And that…made me want to puke!

I would have chosen a less graphic word than puke, but I felt it appropriate considering how repulsive I find such tactics. Why oh why can't we just present the gospel these days without always turning it into a marketing opportunity to advance our "thing"? I call it "thing" because that's what it becomes when we resort to such shenanigans! It is sickeningly offensive and does nothing, but further blur an already skewed view of the gospel in the eyes of a very skeptical world.

Why do these businesses (I will not call them churches…they are businesses) do this? "Oh Ken, they just want to reach people for Jesus!" Surely you must feel the sting of that rolling off your lips if you're truly able to say that with a straight face. Say what you will, but it is a terrible misuse of a grand opportunity to reach the lost and I believe it grieves the heart of God.

Let me make this very clear! PEOPLE NEED JESUS PLUS NOTHING!

Your church with all the trimmings can do nothing for someone who gets the tract, reads it, and dies the next day thinking they'll visit on Sunday.

If you want to help people, quit muddying the pure undefiled water of life with your self-advancing religious "hey look at me" crap. Why can't we just believe that the gospel alone is more than enough?
I can hear people now, "Yeah, but what if they have questions or need counseling?" Why not just put a simple phone number with the message, "Need help? Have questions? Call….." Do we really have to devote several pages of a gospel tract advertising how we want them to attend and join our "thing"?

This "approach" does nothing but distort what it means to become a child of God. If they need to become a part of one of our "churches", can we not trust that God can handle leading them in that? Is that not what most Christians do when looking for a new gig? They pray and trust God to lead them in the right direction. These "tracts" present the whole "you need a church and we're it" mess as being just as important as the gospel itself. Again, what happens when they get caught up in the "come to our church message" at the expense of the "you need Jesus" portions of the marketing flyer (cause it's not a tract)? If you only get one shot at sharing Jesus with someone, is that really the best approach?

The truth is American "Christianity" and doing "church" has become more about us and our own sad agendas than anything else. It's as if we say to God, "Lord, here's the plan, now see if you can fit in somewhere." Most of the places participating in this junk just want to grow bigger, take in more cash, and do more stuff. Why? Because, it makes everyone feel really successful and we all know that's what it's all about. Not only that, it works as a wonderful substitute for the true relationship most modern "Christians" don't have time for and avoid.

Newsflash: God does not give a rip about any of that! It's a sick game we play and it makes the devil chuckle.

I will end with this; if your church does not participate in such foolishness, I AM NOT talking to you, nor am I speaking of your church. I AM talking about the "religious organizations" that do. Still, you might want to check out the literature that's leaving through the front doors of your own joint. You might be surprised.

Jesus plus nothing still gets the job done folks. If you want people to come to your church, just say so, but quit using the gospel message as an excuse to advance your own kingdom.


Quilty Lady said...

As usual you have shed light from a different perspective on something that has been around for many years and was always thought to be a good thing by the larger majority of people. Many tracts are mailed to people outside the area of the church that publishes the tract and of course you don't expect that those people will show up at the church but pray that the tract will be used in a heart being touched by the Savior and they will seek to have questions answered in their own area. One particular experience that I have had was on vacation when we wanted to attend church on Sunday morning as usual and we were in transit between here and there. We tried to check out the telephone book but didn't see anything there because we didn't know the roads in the area so we decided to just get dressed, get in the car, and stop when we saw a church and we started driving, not on the freeway but down a state highway and drove for several miles before we saw a sign saying turn here to Baptist Church. Well we turned and drove down that road and finally after several more miles found the church. They had a lovely service, were friendly asking where we were from, etc and we explained our mission and how we came to be at their church, because it was the only sign we saw! Several months later we received a letter signed by the pastor and deacons telling us how our visit has changed their outreach and with pictures of new signs that had been posted and letting us know that this ideal had brought other families to visit their church! Just made me feel good. Is advertising bad? Without it we would not have visited that church on that day when people were open and receptive to something that would help spread the gospel of Christ. To me churches can preform many functions in addition to spreading the gospel, they are a healing station for those who are suffering spiritual and emotional pain, they are a helping hand when we help others in need and they are a place to join like-minded people in worship and praise of a loving Savior and God. Not all good, not all bad. The difficulty is learning to take the good and leave the bad. Take Christ, leave the laws of the people.

Kenja said...

No problem with advertising IF that is the stated goal. My beef is with those who use the gospel to accomplish a goal...other than sharing the gospel. Intentionally...or via their own ignorance. Not cool! I'm far from perfect and blow it all the time, but this just struck me the wrong way.