You Know What I Wish?

I wish that churches would have parties instead of “outreach events.”

I wish that unbelievers could walk into a church’s football party or Christmas open house or Trunk-or-Treat or summer BBQ and not have to be nervous that they’d have to stop talking to their friends, set down their refreshments, and go into the sanctuary and listen to a “message.”

I wish that every event didn’t have to be baptized or Jesus-ified to be considered church-appropriate.

And I wish that those changes would result from a deep conviction that the proclamation of the Gospel is a task for every Christian, not just for church leadership and pastors; that alienating unbelievers with uncomfortable bait-and-switch drive-by evangelism does more harm than good; and that loving our neighbors actually involves developing a relationship with them, not just programming three worship songs and a twenty-minute devotional in the middle of a Harvest Party.

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9 thoughts on “You Know What I Wish?

  1. I suspect it’s a consequence of the hard division between “Church stuff” and “secular stuff” that runs through most people’s minds.

    What do you think of events like this, or the hosting of movie nights?

    • I don’t have the slightest problem with either, in fact I think both would be fantastic. I do have a big problem with bait-and-switch tactics (“It’s a party! Except surprise! Now you have to sit and listen to a gospel presentation instead of watching the Halftime Show!”) and with the notion that it’s somehow not Christian enough just to show hospitality and pray that gospel opportunities will happen naturally — the idea that we have to have a time where we stop doing everything else and listen to someone talk about Jesus in order for it to be Christian enough.

      • WRT movie nights, incidentally, I think Q&As and/or panel discussions are great after those. Unfortunately, I think too many churches only want to (or are only allowed to, by policy) show “Christian” movies, or “issue”-type movies like Collision or Expelled. I think it’d be amazing for a church to host a movie night and show a Hitchcock movie and talk about the nature of fear, and why we’re drawn to a thriller, and what’s satisfying about a well-resolved film, and why Hitchcock remains one of the world’s greatest film directors ever. Or do a series and screen several of the AFI 100. Or whatever.

        • Sounds like a great idea, actually.

          You could even have a HP marathon. 🙂

          One problem is that many people wouldn’t know what to say — that “Church stuff” and “secular stuff” divide again. However, there is a growing number of books that help people think through an engagement with literature and film.

  2. Laura, I like how you brought this down to the issue of whose job it is in the kingdom of God to be spreading the gospel (everyone’s), and I also agree with you that bait and switch evangelism is more problematic than edifying.

    I remember a friend of mine who had a video he invited his neighbors to come over and watch. It was about some famous athlete, and that’s how he pitched it to the guests. He did not tell them the video included an evangelistic message from the athlete too. When that part came on, my friend said he suddenly realized his mistake. An uncomfortable silence fell over the living room and he squirmed while looking for a hole to crawl into. He told me that the worst part about how he handled the invitations is that he realized he could easily have told them there was a message about Jesus in the video, and then let God work in the hearts of the neighbors to bring them along if he wanted.

    God’s got all kinds of ways to spread the good news, doesn’t he?

    Tim

  3. As you know, that’s what the CPC feasts are. After all, the fullness of the kingdom is a wedding feast. We are practicing, so we are ready. Great thoughts. Bait and switch events give me the creeps, too.

  4. Yeah, good one. I like it when the social, doing things events are really built into the life of the church meaning it’s stuff you’d kind of be doing anyway. I remember some movie night to which I had invited my (very athiest) friend to and had someone say: “Oh is this a bring-your-friend night? In front of said friend”. Man.

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