Today wasn't all that exciting, just the normal day of classes and such. I turned in my big Framework for Youth Ministry paper. Thirteen pages of how I plan to do ministry someday! I actually liked doing that paper because I got to write about everything I've ever thought about ministry for the last two years. I'm quite proud of it, to be honest.
In apologetics today Dr. Batts was hilarious. He came prepared for the wrong class! He's funny. I'm not particularly fond of his class because it's so much busy work. We fill out work sheet after work sheet, memorize them, and then take a test that is directly off the worksheet. It's really annoying. Every once in a while he does come up with a rather interesting assignment. Today, out of his bag of tricks he handed out a different tract to everyone. With this tract, we're supposed to analyze it and then make our own tract. I got possibly the worst tract out of the bunch. Let's look at the front of it:
Notice the title "The Grace that Saves." Also notice how utterly boring it is. If you got this, would you be interested? I didn't think so. Alright, let's analyze further. I'm not going to take a picture of the inside, but it's pretty boring too. All tiny lettering. On the front, the tract explains that Jesus loves you and died for your sins, it also lists Romans 5:19a, Romans 5:12, Romans 3:10-18, Romans 3:22-23, Romans 6:23a, and John 3:18. These are all pretty standard evangelism scriptures that establish a couple things. First, we are sinners. Second, sin brings eternal separation from God. Third, and that Christ will redeem you. I do not have a major problem with this. These are pretty typical and important. If I were going to pick on the tract, I would say that you can't really smack an unbeliever with scripture. Anyway, this isn't so bad. But then it gets worse...
The next paragraph says this, and I quote (parenthetical asides mine), "If you have not believed in Chirst enough to ask him to save you, you are lost and unsaved (a little blunt, but true). LOST NOW, CONDEMNED NOW, not in the coming age, but NOW, NOW. You are walking around condemned, lost, and sure to be in hell." Now, don't get me wrong, this is all true. But, is this really going to make an unbeliever read any further? It gets worse. "The rich man in Luke, chapter 16, has been in hell these nineteen hundred years since Jesus spoke of him when he was on this earth. This rich man is still in hell this very moment. In ten years this man will still be in hell. In fifty years, a hundred years, even a thousand years from now, he will still be in the burning pit of unquenchable fire. He is damned and lost forever. (this is my favorite part) Sinner friend, trust in Christ today. If you go to hell, God the Father won't help you out, Jesus will not, the Holy Spirit will not, because you rejected all three when you turned down Christ. Sinner, trust Christ TODAY, and know you are saved."
Ok, so, none of that is a lie. Yes, if you don't allow God to save you, you will go to hell. But this is such a big smack in the face that I'm not sure a nonbeliever would stick around long enough to get to the grace part (which is not very long in this tract. It basically makes a huge deal out of hell and not a huge deal about grace). Honestly, I really don't think this is the best way to go about telling people about Christ. We can't water down the gospel to "Jesus loves you. Love him back!" because that's only half of the story. But neither should we emphasize hell so much and scare people into "faith".
I propose a different way to evangelize. We need to love people. That means having relationships with them and knowing them. This takes time, but a relationship will go a lot further than a tract selling fire insurance. The relationship you foster with someone will establish credibility and trust. This also means that we need to live lives that are completely drenched in the gospel. Sure, we're going to sin, but we can still go a long way to clean up our lives.