A while back I saw a church advertisement in a newspaper that read, “Accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and receive a free cell phone.” On another occasion I saw an advertisement that stated a church was having a drawing for a laptop – but you had to be present in services for the drawing. One must conclude that someone in these churches gave much consideration as to these “gimmicks” being a good means to draw people to this church, as well as it being an “evangelistic outreach” tool. Likewise, we must conclude that the church leadership agreed; after all, why not give someone a cell phone or a laptop if they come to our church and accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior? Wouldn’t that be a small price to pay? (And let’s not forget all of the churches that now offer a Java bar; to get your caffeine fix before the preaching.)
What is so sad about these “gimmicks” is that they completely degrade the great cost to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for His provision of salvation. For instead of the focus being on receiving eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ alone, the emphasis is really on receiving a cell phone or a laptop paid for by these churches, through required attendance and simply stating, “I believe.” What an egregious degradation to the cost of eternal life – the shed blood of Jesus Christ!
In 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 the apostle Paul penned,
“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
Then in Romans 1:16 the apostle Paul penned,
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
In Romans 5:1-9 we read,
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
“Salvation” is through God’s grace; not man’s gimmicks.
Furthermore, these gimmicks also degrade the purpose and need for one to “hear” the Word of God.
Romans 10:17 states,
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Romans 3:23 states,
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
Romans 6:23 states,
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
And Romans 10:13 states,
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
When one [hears] the Word of God, receives it as Truth, repents of their sins – placing their faith and trust in Jesus Christ the One who died in our place, one is eternally saved. A saved person now has a home in Heaven – something much better than a “cell phone” or a “laptop”!
Now before you run to judgment against these congregations for their “gimmicks”, let us consider whether any of our “evangelistic outreach” methods could befall a “gimmick”. May we learn to never try to get people to come to the Lord (and for that fact, to our church) through “gimmicks” – but only through preaching the Word of God accompanied with the conviction of the Holy Spirit. For only through faith in God’s Son Jesus Christ and the cleansing of the Lord’s Spirit can one be truly saved.