Earlier this month a church in Maryland came up with greatest attractional ministry stunt. Destiny Church in Columbia, MD gave away a car at each of it's services. The goal: increase worship attendance. And it worked.
Stunts like these are predominantly seen in attractional youth ministry. Meaning, give something away and students (people) will show up. This can range from gift cards to electronics, with cars being the ultimate giveaway.
One of the biggest misconceptions of evangelism is that it is all about butts in the seats and salvation notches on your Christian belt. From my time as a youth minister I constantly felt as though I was in competition with other youth ministers over the number of "salvations" one gained during a weekly youth service or while on a retreat. In a time where the church struggles with the term "evangelical" and who can be one, it is no wonder church's like Destiny Church are using attractional ministry to put butts on the pews. And that is what these stunts are all about. Destiny Church was at least honest about what they were doing. The Washington Post reported the evangelism stunt was done to "show God's goodness and to attract new members."
The problem with attractional evangelism and ministry is that it requires you to out-do yourself week after week. Those who showed up for the giveaway, might stay because they've found God or discovered that Christ has always been present in their lives but if they came for the novelty of the car, and you don't have another novelty lined up, the emptiness of attractional evangelism will fall flat and the 51% increase experience will dwindle back to the norm until the next over the top outreach attempt.
You want to reach out, sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with the community? Consider the following:
Evangelism does not mean that you have to water down the Gospel or not mention Jesus. Talk about Jesus. Talk about the ways in which you have encountered the risen Christ. Talk about how Christ has overcome the power of sin and death.
Evangelism does not have to be about believing the right thing or shouting doctrine from a bullhorn. Evangelism can offer someone the opportunity to experience the grace only available through Jesus Christ.
Evangelism should not be focused on conversion but instead on establishing a relationship between you and the person you are reaching out to. Through that relationship the love and grace of Christ will be shared.
Evangelism does not have to defend the faith or separate your local church from those "other" churches we see holding signs and proclaiming the prosperity gospel. Evangelism is not about apologetics and instead focuses on the relationship between those we interact with and our risen Lord.
How have you found an effective way to share the gospel without using attractional ministry? Are you stuck in an attractional ministry rut and could use some help? Let's talk about it in the comments below.