Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Holy Week Evangelism

All right, so Greg's post at The Parish is a little...okay...REALLY acerbic. But underneath all that harsh sarcasm lies a commentary on church evangelism during the Lent season. I myself have only recieved one flyer from an area church thus far (and surprisingly it's not from the local absurdly huge non-denominational one), fairly modest in scope and presentation and devoid of any sort of Easter giveaway. They only ask for your company that they might share the joy of Easter with you.

I don't think much of mass-mailing flyers in general. Whenever that subject pops up I remember a stand-up comedian's comment: "It's like they're saying, 'Here, YOU throw this away.'" Not really that effective in the long run. Maybe it'll attract one or two people, but it's not really worth the money. 'But you got those two people to come! Hallelujah!' Don't start.

As for putting on a more catchy hip facade, after I read Greg's post this morning I thought of a movie that came out a few years ago called The Cooler, which features a casino run by an 'old school' owner played by Alec Baldwin. A young guy comes in and attempts to make major changes, make things more flashy, but Baldwin's character strongly opposes it. 'It's the last of it's kind on the strip. A testament to the old days.'

I've commented elsewhere on worship with regard to being or seeming more 'with it,' but giving away a Harley? Come to church and we'll give you expensive stuff? Thankfully I don't know of any area churches doing this. But is this that to which some churches have resorted to attract new members?

Hey, you know what? Come to my church for Maundy Thursday. Yeah, we're gonna have some modern music played during the service, but you know what else you're gonna get? A piece of bread, a little bit of juice, and a bunch of readings from the New Revised Standard Version. Sorry, no Message or New Living or Today's Modern Ultimo Sweet Version. But you what else? We're gonna tell you through only slightly formal language and some old school hymns about a guy who believed in and trusted his message and his God so much that he went to his death at the hands of an oppressive murderous empire for it. And we're going to linger with that death for a few days instead of jumping right to the good happy 'more than a conqueror' stuff. And we're going to use an organ and hymnals. And there will be maybe 40 people there instead of 400. But I promise that they'll be 40 of the most loving friendly people you've ever met. And you won't leave with a Harley, but you'll leave with a handshake and maybe a pat on the back and certainly an open invitation to come back whenever you're able.

We're not the last of our kind, and we're not relics. We try to be hip and flashy when appropriate, but I'd rather we just be relevant and deep. And neither relevance nor depth involves giving away a Harley.