Bait-and-Switch Evangelism

Like Michael and the other vicars this year, I am working on an evangelism project for my church. There are various things to work through, but one thing I am trying to avoid is the bait-and-switch form of evangelism. That is, to attract people with some sort of coffee house/concert/special event, and then sneak in the Gospel/Jesus somehow. Why in the world would anyone come to a church to do that, when they could just meet their friends at Starbucks?
Basically, I’m trying to figure out how to reach people without tricking them. I’ve got some ideas, but I’m interested in the ideas of the people who read this blog, since I’ve found the large majority of the comments to be intelligent and well thought out.

Timotheos

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9 thoughts on “Bait-and-Switch Evangelism

  1. Bar Ministry.

    No… I’m serious.

    Get a core group, three or four people, find a place with good suds with a friendly proprietor, and advertise that you will have a religious discussion group there every Thursday at 6:00 or something.

    Then do it. Have your core group invite friends from work. Welcome anyone who stops buy. Order a few pitchers.

  2. Buy a house in a neighborhood.

    Invite all your neighbors over to a bar-b-que, and tell them that they’re welcome to pop in if you’re around.

    Tell them that you want to get to know them.

    Then…get to know them. Do things for them. Invite them to church, mow their lawn when their parents pass away, watch their kids, take care of their dog, let them serve you.

    In short, live in community and be who you are. That’s all.

  3. Lots of churches use “community” to attract people. Whether guys come to pick up girls, or old people come to quilt together, people often come to church for the people. I get nervous about this. God works through His Word. Community is important, too, but how can we make the Word the focus of evangelism? Brandon is right – actually talking to people is an important step, but I would hope the focus is always on the Word.

  4. Like, getting together to talk about the Word at a bar (Chaz!), park, juice bar, etc. Or even, dare I say it, at church!

  5. I like Chaz’s idea… but maybe you should have it at like a Friday’s type setting, instead of a bar. There might be some young people who are in your congregation who want to participate but are either struggling with alcoholism themselves, or with a family-member or friend. They would probably be more comfortable in a place where they could order food or a “regular” drink and not feel out of place. Plus, you might actually attract 19 or 20 year olds, who wouldn’t be able to drink anyways.

    Karl

  6. The congregation where I am a vicar evangelizes in a number of ways, but one of the most successful has been a good old-fashioned Adult Information Class. Two times a year the church sends out a mass mailing to 4 or 5 zip codes, inviting whoever may be interested to attend a 16 week Adult Information course on the Christian faith. This course may lead to membership in the congregation, but there is no obligation to join. And course materials are subsidized by the congregation itself as a service to the community. Roughly 30 non-members are signed up for the class this fall and the class has served as the principle source of new members for the last 16 years. Those who choose not to become members have at least heard the Gospel. The seed is planted and the Spirit does His work.

  7. Jon,
    What are the demographics of the area in which you serve?

    Brandon,
    I don’t think the church budget or my income will allow for buying a house–at least for this project this year! I get your point about that though; I think part of the job of pastors is to teach and train the people to be Christians where they are. Aside from getting to know the people around you, the other things you mentioned are not evangelism, per se, but they may lead to evangelism. I’m just not sure that serving the neighbor should be conflated with evangelism.
    Thanks for the comments so far.

    Tim

  8. Wow, that’s awesome Jon! Sorry, Chaz, I take back my vote for you… I’m voting for Jon. I actually already voted for Jon, before I voted against him.

    Karl

  9. Thanks for your vote of confidence, Karl. I only suggest the AIC as one example among many of a way to do evangelism that is in no way separated from Word and Sacrament ministry.

    Tim, I can’t tell you the specific demographics of the area, but for the most part, this neighborhood is educated, upper-middle class, unchurched, with a strong Jewish population. However the people we find coming to these classes do not necessarily reflect the demographics of the community. Many Asian immigrants are coming to the classes, though I’m not sure that many actually become members, for whatever reason. Again, at least the seeds are being planted. Otherwise there are people from all walks of life who come to the class, either because they find the subject matter interesting (for instance, a Mormon couple sits in on the class simply to learn about Lutheranism), or because they are looking for a church home, or perhaps they are searching for something that they can’t even identify, some sort of meaning to life, some sort of truth they can hold on to. I pray that they find that here as the Holy Spirit leads them to Jesus Christ by means of His Word.

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