July 26, 2010

An Exercise in Evangelistic Tact

I received this as a comment on my "Road Rage" post a while back. I didn't publish it because I thought it was cheesy, and I have a policy about comments needing to apply to the post they are connected to and a policy about not lecturing. Considering that this on from a post about Road Rage, it clearly was not on topic, and it is clearly lecturing.

But I did decide to keep it because I wanted to do a post critiquing it. it is a wonderful example of poor tract evangelism, and I wanted to share it with you guys. I didn't include the name since I'm going to give a negative critique.

If you died today, are you 100% sure you would go to Heaven ?

The Bible says in I John 5:13, that we can KNOW we are saved eternally and
going to Heaven.

"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son
of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on
the name of the Son of God." I John 5:13

1. First, you must realize that you are a sinner.

The Bible says in Romans 3:23, that everyone is a sinner.

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Romans

2. You must realize what yours sins earn you.

The Bible tells us the penalty for our sin in the first part of Romans

"For the wages of sin is death;" Romans 6:23a

Because we sin, we earn wages just like when we earn wages for working. Our
wages for our sins is death. Because we sin, we deserve to die.

But that's not all, because we sin, we deserve to die a second death as
well ...

"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second
death." Revelation 20:14

Because of our sins, we also deserve to die the second death: to be cast
into the Lake of Fire ( Hell ).

3. Jesus paid the price.

God wants us to go to Heaven, so He sent His only begotten Son to die for
us on the cross, so we can go to Heaven !

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

4. What must I do to be saved ?

God only asks one thing of us to be saved.

"And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,
and thy house." Acts 16:31

"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt
believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be
saved." Romans 10:9

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."Romans

If we believe that we Jesus died for us and rose again so that we can be
saved, and we simply ask Jesus to save us, He will :)

I just wanted to make sure you knew 100% sure :D

God bless you and yours !

Problem #1: Hit and Run

The very way that this comment is made makes it very clear that this poster is simply posting this without intending to follow-up. If the person did attempt to follow-up, then they did a lousy job in opening conversation.

Which is the basic point. I understand the need for a tract to give all of the information that a person may ask since the giver of the tract won't be there for the reading of the tract. But if you are going to comment on a blog then your objective in evangelism should be opening up dialogue. Giving a page long description of the process of salvation complete with proof-texts and then claiming that you are just "making sure" is pompous, and dissuades one from having a conversation.

I mean, what did she (because it was a she) expect me to say in response? "No I'm not sure" or "Actually, I really don't care" or the more accurate in my case "Actually I completely understand and accept all that you said and you just completely wasted my time considering you could have figured this out by briefly skimming my site"? None of these are really natural responses, or represent serious dialogue.

Problem #2: The Machine Gun Hermeneutic

I have a policy on this too. Look at the way Scripture is used here. She lists particular verses, and then does nothing to interact with them. This brings up the question: who is her target here?

Let's say I am already a Christian. Then there is no purpose for her even giving me this message, and I am probably already familiar with these verses.

OK, let's say I am not a Christian. Then why would I care what the Scripture says? What is the point of quoting it? I mean, I quote Scripture when I talk to non-Christians as a source for what I believe, but not as an authority as to why they should believe the same as I do. The Bible belongs to the Church, and is an authority for the Church. It isn't to those outside of it, and we shouldn't be surprised by that.

OK, let's say that I am a false Christian (to be honest, that is what I am assuming she is "making sure of"). Again, I probably would be familiar with these verses, and there is little here that would point out where I fall short in the faith.

In other words, regardless of where I am coming from, her presentation would not convince me.

Problem #3: Disingenuous

I've alluded to this several times already, but the cheeky "I just wanted to make sure you were 100% sure" is really insulting. This is so insincere. If she wanted to make sure, then she would have asked me questions, not given me a lecture. Or she at least would have read more of my posts, and found out what I claim to believe, and have written in response to that (I even have a section listing all of my beliefs and a link to it at the top of my blog). Even if she did give me this out of a desire to "make sure", it is quite evident that she doesn't really care about me.

Now it would be wrong of me to say what she was thinking. My imagination would assume the worse because I am insulted, but probably her motivations are far more innocent than I would imagine. But there is nothing more annoying than claiming that they are concerned about you, while their actions make it seem like you are just another stamp on the side of their plane.


Take the time to think about what you are doing when you are evangelizing. Think in terms of who you are trying to reach, and what medium you are using.

When handing out tracts, you have to be this general: it is a natural aspect of the medium, and that is OK. But even then you have to think about target audience, and how that group of people will respond to your words.

If you are street evangelizing, you need to be focused on emotion rather than logic. You need to get people to want to listen to you, rather than simply being correct in what you have to say.

But more to the point, blogs give you an ability to be precise in your evangelism that you not only can take advantage of, but will be expected to. If someone has a blog, they are a person that wants to have their thoughts heard. Thus, if you want to reach someone on a blog, you first need to impress them with how familiar you are with their writing. If you are unwilling to do the work to do this, then you shouldn't say anything at all.

And, in the words of Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that.

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