Saturday, September 03, 2005

Let's All Hand Out Tracts!

When I grew up I went to a church that loved people and really wanted to see change. The founding pastor was a missionary who went all over the world telling people the good news that Jesus loved them and God provides hope for all who would embrace him.

One of the constants in that church, and many like it in that day, was the infamous "tract rack". It was a wooden rack filled with little booklets with cartoon-like drawings and writings that were supposed to convince people to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. My personal experience with these little booklets is that when I read them I got a bit scared, found that they were a little condescending and apacolyptic in nature. I am not going to evaluate the effectiveness of this mode of evangelism, nor am I going to offer my opinion. I am not here to critique them.
As time went on, the "hand out" type of literature for evangelism evolved (can I say that?) into a more seeker-friendly type. The Four Spiritual Laws booklet was born and countless students across scores of campuses in America found out who Jesus was and how much God loved them. There seems to be something missing in this whole thing that I am pretty sure we as the church are realizing. We must be able to bridge the gap to people in a way that isn't so non-relational.

So here we are. We're followers of Jesus with love just oozing out of us in the form of a cold, emotionless, non-relational and non-spiritual mode of connecting with people. Are you getting the picture? I think the church has a great opportunity here. We are dealing with a generation of spiritual seekers in our nation. If we have the mentality that that we can't get close to people, to know them, understand them, be in their world and feel as a real human being then we're going to miss one of the greatest evangelistic opportunities we've seen.

Mega churches in America have gotten this right. They have felt people's needs. They have identified with people. They have spoken their language. They offered them connection and community. They have allowed people to leave feeling like they experienced God. I think it is because they probably did. Are we surprised at how fast these mega churches grow? Why is it that some criticize the great outreach, the all-inclusive and unconditional love? Yes we all have our niche to reach and we can do it whatever way we want but it has been proven without a doubt, there is no substitute for a caring connection to a real person in a loving church.

After all, isn't that what Jesus did? He came to this earth, he became touched by the feeling of our infirmities. He felt our pain and met our needs and loved us just the way we were. I think we should try our hardest to keep it simple and do it the way Jesus did, or we could all hand out tracts.

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