Beyond The Pale

Thoughts on Kingdom, Grace, Culture, and Church

Beyond The Pale - Thoughts on Kingdom, Grace, Culture, and Church

Christianity Without Hooks

  • What if sharing Christianity came without hooks?
  • What if “bait & switch” evangelistic tactics were scrapped all together?
  • How does one introduce another to the Life Christ brings if we aren’t allowed to use a little well- intentioned manipulation occasionally?

I while back I wrote a post on Lady Gaga and some of the attention she got here in Asia with “the church.” I suggested that Lady Gaga was attracting a following not only for her musical talent, but her sincere compassion for people.  Much in the same way Jesus attracted crowds.

A couple days later I was reading a Facebook thread  and a girl I didn’t know was quoting my blog in her post. Ok, I was mildly proud as any writer will tell you that it feels good to have someone say they read your work…and having a stranger quote it feels REALLY good.

But she was taking issue with it. She seemed to struggle with the idea that Jesus enjoyed being with sinners. She said that Jesus of course hung out with them to see them saved but that was about it. This, I believe, has been one of the central problems with the modern church for decades. People are seen as objects to be “converted” rather than individuals to be loved and befriended without condition!

People just wanted to “hang out” with Jesus because he was their friend

And you know what?

We’re supposed to be Christ. Now that he is dwelling in us and we’re “his body” people are supposed to want to hang out with us. We’re supposed to have “living water” in us that people respond to naturally…

But many of our “living water” wells seem to be dry.  People don’t want to be around us much so we come up with evangelistic “strategies” covering everything from cool music bands to free pizza, packaged as “four spiritual laws” to make up for the shortfall.. Particularly in the West, people are conditioned to expect that when a church group does something nice, they have an agenda.

“You want the meal, you have to listen to Pastor Jones share how Jesus wants to come into your life.”

And then once you accept Christ, guess what, you can go tell your friends about him.

 

We’ve reduced the Creator of the Universe and the Author of Life down to the level of a pitch for Amway!

 

God and Shakespeare?

Back when I leading a church in Lan Kwai Fong (the nightclub district in Hong Kong) I started running a Shakespeare discussion group on Thursday nights at the church’s meeting location. We’d discuss Shakespeare’s plays which would lead often to talks on politics and religion mixed with generous amounts of wine. Although we intended to do the meeting every other week the group really enjoyed being with each other so we made it a weekly event and surprisingly, almost everyone who came was not attending the church.

 

jackbauer_evangelism

Anyhow I can’t tell you how many times I was taken to the side by Christians and pastors outside our church to “help them understand” why I was doing it. The South China Morning Post had done a story about us so everyone seemed to know about it. At a church leaders breakfast one pastor cornered me and wanted to know more about “this Shakespeare Group”.

“Well, its a bunch of people from the Lan Kwai Fong area who get together to discuss Shakespeare’s plays.” I answered

“But why do YOU do it?” he asked

Not knowing what else to say I responded, “Because I love Shakespeare and I like being with other people who do.”

Genuinely perplexed he then asked, “But you do it at the church, is it a church function? Is it pre-evangelism?”

Dear Lord, you give them eyes, yet they cannot see…

To this pastor’s credit, he liked me and really did want to understand…he just couldn’t. Too many years of hardened church leadership had taken its toll. He could not conceive of an event (especially one held in a church building) where you just enjoyed being with people with NO STRINGS ATTACHED. (And I still haven’t figured out what “pre-evangelism” is)

The funny thing was I often was able to share Jesus at these meetings in the natural flow of discussion; one guy even joined the church…and it all happened naturally.

Parties…without Hooks??

I’ll close by saying last spring at our homegroup meeting we were deciding what kind of weekend activity we could do in the summer that we could invite people to. One friend said something along the lines of, “well how do we bring the gospel into it because otherwise we just get a reputation for throwing good parties.”

Funny, attending good parties seemed to be a reputation Jesus had! I want that reputation too!

What would happen if the church started throwing parties people outside the church wanted to come to? What if our relationships with people came without agendas and “hooks”….mmm I wonder.

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  • Andrew Hackman says:

    But ultimately… isn’t not having a hook… a hook? If, at a foundational level, one still needs the other to see things as they do…. whether it is passive, or aggressive, it is still the same isn’t it? I get your point, and I believe you are honest, but it seems to me you can’t really hit the place you are going for until you are 100% totally fine with that other person NEVER becoming Christian. And is a Christian able to do that?

    November 30, 2013 at 12:43 am
    • Steve says:

      But I would say I am that way…I have no agenda in a friendship beyond friendship

      November 30, 2013 at 9:17 am
  • Bob says:

    Agree 100 percent, Steve. No hooks, no string, just crazy, supernatural love — love that is irresistable. People naturally want to know where that comes from.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:04 am

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