Thursday, April 5, 2007

Bait and Switch Evangelism

Bait and switch: a term originally coined for marketing practices in which interest and then traffic was enticed by offering or emphasizing one thing, when in reality something else was actually intended to be sold.

Is the Kingdom of God trying to sell something unwanted, overstocked, or flimsily made? Why then do we try to gain adherents by offering one thing (advice on sex, gift certificates, pop music, a noted speaker instead of a gospel preacher, etc.) when, if we're being honest about our intent, what we really want to offer is an invitation to become a follower of Jesus. God help us, we have become Condo sellers offering great weekend getaways as long as you'll sit through our spiel!

THIS IS NOT EVANGELISM! It's underhanded and reveals a jaded heart-- certainly not a heart like God's. This is not a pattern we learn from anyone in the scriptures, especially Paul, who is often cited as the poster boy for those who try to justify such things. Using these kinds of methods only reveals a total lack of trust in our "product."

Maybe our own ambitions, cloaked in spiritual garb, get the best of us and we lose judgment in the pursuit. A wise pastor once offered me sage advice in my early days in the ministry: "if you get them in by giving them a hot dog, you'll have to give them a hot dog every week to keep them." The truth in America is that we'd soon have to be serving prime rib! Make no mistake, we want them to come in, but not at the cost of gutting the gospel, or squelching spiritual gifts, or enticing the flesh, or turning the meeting of the saints into a cabaret.

We call on people to die to themselves in order to live in Christ. The only thing that can make that appealing is the conviction of the Holy Ghost, faith, and the good example of God's people. Bait and switch evangelism obscures the truth which is the only means of setting the sinner free. Therefore, it is not evangelism at all!


  1. I think the whole bait & switch thing is a large part of the church-hopping generation we live in. I once heard an evangelist say, "People come to church like crack addicts looking for their next fix." On the other hand, I often hear my pastor say, "I got delivered- calling on the name of Jesus."
    Truly we are living in the last days.

  2. Great word Thunder!

    As an evangelist, there is pressure on me to come up with some "get the church filled quick" scheme just so I can have a chance to preach the Gospel (a scheme of which I don't have:)

    A couple of things I've learned about real evangelism:
    It cost time. That's why we willingly let someone else do it!

    It costs energy. We don't have any energy left because we've given all our energy to our "other" gods;

    It cost money! Here again, it's much easier to pay someone else to do the dirty work for us than for us to simply open our mouths at work, at school, at the WalMart and simply declare Jesus is Lord to people we come in contact with.

  3. Makes me want to ask people when the Gospel lost its power. I hear that this generation is to sophisticated for the simple preached word to which I say that one must become like a child.

    Maybe, just maybe, Jesus had all this figured out back 2000 years ago.

  4. The majority of people do not understand that Jesus was betrayed, crucified, and then betrayed again! And the last thing that He would want to have happen is to have his children be coerced to love the very people who are the least trustworthy. To call someone who markets Christian Love and delivers nothing in return is severe understatement! Most do not understand anyhing of bonded love relationships promoted in I Corinthians 13. We need to show others that we understand the needs of the needy enough to understand how to disciple with Love.

  5. Welcome, Anonymous, to the Sound. Thank you for the thoughtful comment.


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