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!