Home > evangelism, fishing, outreach > Doughballs, Plastic Worms and Spinners (or "Getting Over ‘Outreach Outrage’")

Doughballs, Plastic Worms and Spinners (or "Getting Over ‘Outreach Outrage’")

Right up front, let me be clear – I believe that the preaching of the Cross is the power of God unto salvation. I believe we need to lift up Christ, who said He would draw all men unto Him. I believe we must “preach Christ crucified” to see genuine life change in the people we minister to.

I don’t give ‘talks’ on how to have a better marriage, advance your career, or raise happy, shiny children. I preach expository messages from scripture – which, by the way, provides us with God’s principles and directions for doing all the aforementioned and much more…

If anything you read from here on causes you to think otherwise, please re-read the first two paragraphs.

I’m just getting really tired of Christians picking on other Christians because of how they do ‘outreach’.

It happens anytime a church does something different. Maybe it’s a very contemporary, or even edgy, advertisement… A sermon series on a controversial or provocative topic… An unusual method of appealing to unsaved and unchurched.

And the hounds of protest begin to howl…

It cheapens the Gospel…
The Gospel has held up pretty well the last 2000 years even though it’s been ridiculed, rejected, and ignored. I think it can endure church coffee shops.

What you win them with you win them to…
This could actually be true, but only in the absence of good teaching and preaching that lifts up Jesus. I’ve seen families get involved in church because they first came to a church-sponsored Easter egg hunt, and they don’t show up every Sunday with baskets in hand looking for jelly beans and hollow bunny handouts.

And the silver bullet, it’s worldly…
Yeah, there are some places in outreach that I’m not going to go. There are some current forms of “evangelism” that I find tacky, silly, and distasteful. My solution? I don’t do those things in my church, and I resist the urge to throw a brother or sister under the bus because they do.

So what if they’re doing it wrong? When Jesus’ disciples got upset that someone who wasn’t part of their circle was doing ministry, Jesus said, “He who is not against us is with us.” Paul said of those whose motives and methods were suspect, “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.”

Of course, part of the problem is that often the assumption is made that Christ isn’t being preached in a church that’s stooping to such unseemly methods. And if we’re going to make such assertions, we’d better be sure we have full knowledge of the content of sermons, Bible studies, and children’s ministry materials used in those churches.

Every fisherman has run into that guy who knows how to fish better than you do and isn’t shy about telling you. He’ll criticize your bait choice, your equipment, your location, and your casting style. He’s a nuisance, but at least he only treats you like you’re stupid, and not like you’re a sleazy, worldly sell-out.

(And yes, I know the arrogance and disdain is on both sides of this issue. Often, those in “cutting-edge” churches act like everybody who doesn’t do it like they do is hopelessly out of touch and outdated. That attitude stinks, too.)

Instead of critiquing the bait, let’s get excited that folks are fishing, and pray that the hook will always be the Gospel.

Categories: evangelism, fishing, outreach
  1. Jeff Moore - Pastor
    March 12, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Really like your compassion concerning the issue and thought that this was a great article. I love it when I see passion and fire in other Pastor’s…..it gets me excited about ministry.

  2. Robert
    March 23, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    I hear ya, I hear ya. I resemble your remarks, I know. Still, I look at Barna’s numbers how many people in our society sit in a building on Sunday and call it church and then I look at our society and think that we might be doing something wrong. If I criticize a method I’m really criticizing the concept, not the individual church (which, as you point out, would take a LOT of research, and I’m not really about all that). Still, I can hear about a church using a toilet as outreach and say, “That’s stupid” without making a point about the church, its other outreach, its teaching, the cut of the preacher’s jib, etc.

    To use your fisherman analogy. We may do well to not pick apart the other guy’s bait and technique, but if he’s using poison or dynamite or fishing illegaly, I think it’s OK to cry foul.

    And more than anything, we ought to be examining WHY we are trying to reach people in the first place. To make a better marriage? To fill a church building? To inflate our numbers?

    No, it’s for Christ, who also said if they’re not for us they’re against us.

    In the end, we’re saying the same thing, just coming at it from a different angle. My point is not to criticize individual churches but to get folks out into the streets to do the Great Commission, not to just rely on the “Outreach Committee” to find a new way to get people to the church on Sunday.

    Great blog, by the way.

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