I confess that I am totally disgusted by what happened this weekend - no matter which way I look at it.
There we were, enjoying a good morning in the Church cafe which as usual on a Saturday was bustling and busy - when we notice people canvassing outside. Being curious, I went out to see what was going on.
The Vinyard Church from Putney were busy canvassing for new members outside our Church by inviting them to a free Hog roast and healing(!!!) event.
Aside from the obvious questions about how healed a hog would be when it was roasted, I found myself wondering what sort of 'Christians' canvass for members directly outside another Church and what sort of signal does this send to non-Christians?
On the one hand I would love to have admired them for their evangelistic zeal(?) But the claim that all they were interested in doing was leading people to Jesus that day was clearly untrue given that what they were actually doing was luring people to the Vinyard's worship in Putney on a specific date - using roasted meat and 'healing' as bait...
Unless, of course, their claim was based on the conviction that the only way that people could be led to Jesus in New Malden was if they travelled all the way to Putney.. because they certainly weren't directing the people they were 'evangelising' to any of the Churches in New Malden - leave alone the open Church they were just a few steps away from.
I wish I could believe in their sincerity, but there was nothing on the leaflet they were handing out that was Gospel - nothing that spoke of the love of God, of the power of the Cross, of Jesus, of Salvation - no: there was no evangelism happening yesterday - only an advertisement for Vinyard's next big sale. The whole thing was a crowd pulling exercise. Except, after watching for over an hour, it soon became noticeable that leaflets tended to only be given to those below a certain age.. I guess those aged 45+ who would be most likely to need 'healing' weren't invited to the feast.
On all sorts of different levels
I am disgusted at the lack of common courtesy and Christian fellowship shown by members of the Vinyard this Saturday and the way in which that demeans the whole people of God.
I am disgusted at what has been made of the 'truth' of the Gospel - when those who preach it feel they have to bait it using an advert for 'Hog Roasts and Healing' before people will come to listen.
And of course, I am disgusted at my reaction - surely what matters above all is that people learn of Christ?
YES, YES, YES.. after all - Wesley also preached OUTSIDE churches..
So I have had to ask myself, am I so disgusted because in my heart of hearts I wish we were as evangelistic?
Yes and no.
Yes I wish that all Christians who worship in New Malden were more outgoing in their willingness to talk to people, whether in the street or at home or in work about the Good News of Jesus Christ
I pray that none of us become so desperate for 'members' or so determined to promote our own brand of Jesus worship, that we feel the need to canvass - sorry - evangelise - in such a manner.
It was, after all, only AFTER a pulpit was denied to him that Wesley preached outside a Church!.