Monday, October 22, 2007

The 'Bait and Switch'

Working in an evangelistic ministry like I do one issue that's frequently considered is that of 'follow up', or my preferred way of describing it 'follow through' (subtle but important difference). However neither of these concepts are likely to have much chance of success if the original evangelistic 'pitch' in any way involves a bait and switch.
What's a bait and switch? Well, imagine you get a mailing through your door telling you that you've won a free holiday in Ibiza. All expenses paid, first class flight and 5 star accommodation included - all you have to do is sign and return the enclosed letter of acceptance and then turn up at a hotel somewhere near where you live to meet a representative of the company who'll explain the rest to you. Yep, its a scam. We see it being played out on Watchdog every week. A naive young couple are gutted when they realise they've actually signed up for life to a timeshare apartment on a building site down a dirt track 10 miles from the sea. But the parallels between this kind of corporate con trick and contemporary evangelistic preaching are scary. One of the main reasons that 95% of the people who respond to an evangelistic message don't go on with God is because they quickly realise they've been stung. Someone promised them peace with God and freedom from guilt and they woke up the next day to find they're lumbered with a lifetime of hanging out with wierdoes on a Sunday morning singing strange songs and listening to long winded lectures.
So what can be done about it? Well whilst it's important for church leaders to ensure that their congregations are welcoming, caring environments the onus is really on us the evangelists. The day of selling individually packaged grace deals without any reference to the conditions of the contract is over. The message must change. Christianity equals community. Belief necessitates behaviour. We evangelists need to grapple with this and find fresh inspiration so that we might reveal the true nature of life in the risen Christ, joining an epic journey with a rag-tag bunch of pilgrims who are determined to see God's great dream for the world fulfilled.

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Rodney Olsen said...

Great post.

We've got to stop selling people a 'spiritual product', and start introducing them to a lifetime journey with Jesus .... and his followers.

I do wonder about those who use bait and switch. Do they feel that following Christ isn't really all that compelling? Do they think that people will only 'buy the product' if they embellish it? If that's the case for them I'd be very concerned about their spirituality and their experience of God.

Glen Marshall said...

Spot on Matt. Ineffective and unchristlike.

Matthew lane said...

Indeed Matt, there has to be a challange with the call, Jesus said it better than me (no suprise there!)in Luke 14:25-34;&version=31;

and in luke 9:57-62 and Luke 13:1-9


little said...

Here, here!

Emanna said...

This was a great post Matt. We need gut-level honesty on this issue. We were created to be relational, and we cannot sit back and expect for God to "fix" us without using others around us. This keeps us humble, and keeps us real. To the extent we are transparent and real with those we minister to will be the same measure we'll receive back in the form of them "getting it" - the Christian way of life. This life is a journey - not a one time destination when we accept Jesus as Lord. My two cents... :0)