Wednesday, August 05th, 2009 | Author:

Welcome to the Word for Wednesday meme. You are invited to post a scripture on your blog each week that has current meaning to you, with as much or as little commentary as you choose, and leave a link here in the comments. You never know who God may touch with His Word.

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No, it’s not my father’s birthday. That’s in March, and he died in 1974. But let’s suppose.

Let’s say your father’s 80th birthday is coming up and you want to honor him with a grand party. The trouble is, he’s always been a quiet, unassuming kind of guy and never had a lot of friends. Of those, many have already passed on.

So who do you get to come to his party? How do you get them to come? Evaluate these options, and see what you think.

1) Appeal to their stomach – serve a feast of people’s favorite foods, and throw in an open bar

2) Appeal to their greed – pay them a small sum to show up, with the chance to win a big grand prize

3) Appeal to their sexual side – promise them advice about getting and giving better sex

4) Tell them what a good guy your father is. Tell them some of the things he’s done for you over the years.

If your objective is simply to get people to show up, then any of these options will do. If your objective is to please and honor your father, though, you have to rule out 1-3. People who show up for those reasons are not going to be interested in honoring your father, and your father will probably be appalled that you resorted to bribery. As an honest man, he would prefer smaller numbers of people who are truly in attendance to please him and get to know him.

The same is true in our churches. Our Father in heaven is not honored when we try to draw bodies on Sunday morning with bribery. And, yes, churches do it all the time.

1) Whether it’s pot luck suppers or ice cream socials, churches appeal to the stomach on a regular basis.

2) Many bribe with “free” give-aways, and have raffles to raise money. And, of course, there’s the ubiquitous Saturday night bingo.

3) If you think churches wouldn’t stoop to using sex as an enticement, you’re way behind the times. A Little Leaven keeps track of these things, and it’s very eye-opening.

If you search the Bible for the word “bribe” you’ll find numerous statements that God is not pleased by it. He is, however, honored when we simply preach the gospel and leave the attendance figures up to Him.

For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;

but we preach Christ crucified,

to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,

but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks,

Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

(1 Corinthians 1:22-24)

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3 Responses
  1. Jim Wetzel says:

    Without doubt, marketing by deception (is there another kind?) is always wickedness, and the crossless "Christianity" is shamefully widespread. On the other hand, I don't know that the potluck supper is necessarily a bad thing, and I don't imagine you were saying it always is … a church is supposed to be a family of sorts, and eating together is something that families organically do. A lot depends, I think, on the motivation, and also on how the thing is done: is it "catered," or is the food brought from home by the people and shared? Does everyone pitch in and help clean up? I think people often grow closer to each other through the simplest and most everyday kind of activities.

    I'll have to go check out that "a little leaven" site.

    Also, on the "(slightly) better late than never" principle, my WFW is here.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Terrific post! I have long loathed the marketing of Christianity. I am always telling my kids that Jesus isn't that bearded guy in burlap and sandals with the wimpy face and corny "peace" sign- he's got hair white as snow, fire for eyes, brazen feet, and a fiery sword coming out of His mouth! I sure wish the Church would quit taking so much for granted, and show Him some respect.

    Well written post!

  3. akaGaGa says:

    No, Jim, the potluck supper is not always wicked, and eating together can be a good thing. It's been my experience, though, that the potluck supper often supplants the reason we eat together, and "church" becomes just another social club.

    Thanks, Rebecca. I long for the day when all will know what Jesus looks like, and every knee will bow. In the meantime, you'd think the church would spend a little bit of time "showing Him some respect."