Monday, August 13, 2007

operation: evang-e-droppings (report)

The first official evang-e-dropping and overall trash clean-up was a huge success. I was quite surprised and caught off guard in a number of ways.

First of all, it was just my 2-year-old son and myself. So I guess my attendance standards are fairly low for a successful ministry operation.

Second, it’s not like the masses were lining up on the shores of Lake Ft. Phantom to get baptized and be saved due to this deal. I mean - a toddler and I were picking up trash, mostly cigarette butts and a few bottles. That’s it. If the heavens opened wide, I guess I missed it.

We did however find about two dozen evang-e-droppings. Some were fresh and new, telling me the tract giving crew had been there the night before.

And normally I wouldn’t be writing about this event here as it seems to come against my mandate written in Matt 6:1-4. But I still wish to leave an open invitation to any locals who want to participate, thus the horn tooting report. This will be done for about an hour on the weekends. Email me if interested. Otherwise, it will be a father and son event, which is OK by me.

But something weird happened within me. I can’t explain it well. I’ve always believed in “being the message” as opposed to just talking about it. And I think to some degree my life has been this. But only to a degree. I have a long way to go.

However, watching the joy and excitement my son had for picking up trash was priceless. That alone was worth the whole experience, regardless if the bar owners/patrons ever feel the love of jesus from this. More than once Agent Offspring said, “I like picking up trash” as he scrambled over to get something, as if this were a giant easter egg hunt.

I would like to make a mild disclaimer, one that might surprise most: I am almost reluctant to completely criticize another’s outreach tactics. In other words, I am not totally against those who pass out tracts, but I would never join them. I prefer the quiet and unassuming, culturally embedded relational model.

Truthfully, as drive-by and as un-relational as passing tracts out can be, I always wonder about the handful of people in the world who come to know Jesus through one of these means. I know churches lift these new converts up on a pedestal and say, “these efforts WORK”.

And a guy who heads a local tract-passing ministry and I have a brief history together. I know him to be a lover of jesus. Who am I to judge him and say he’s wrong? If anyone can help me wrap my brain around this conundrum, please comment.

Meanwhile, I found one particular tract that fueled my disdain for them. It is 100% guilt trip inflicting and in my theological opinion, incorrect. The front had this Halloween-ish demon head on it with the words, “thanks for living your life for me!”. The back is shown here. Click on it if you care to read.


agent wife said...

Yeah- I was shocked by this tract too, not by it's aggressive approach, but by it's severe judgment and lack of love or compassion. I'm thinking where would Jesus be in this situation and I'm thinking he'd be in the bar making friends (he was called a drunkard) and my other thought was what if one of my school friends who doesn't know the Lord was assaulted with one of these? I'd be embarrassed for her to be given this one for sure. Then I think of our neighbor's friends who are already beaten down and hurt through life and religious judgment, who have lived through more disastrous situations than I can imagine and who came to the bar to find some smiles, maybe someone who would listen, who only feels safe to share these deepest hurts when blitzed and instead is given this, by someone standing outside. I think it would hurt. But that's just my unexperienced opinion.

Steve said...

There's a nice little discussion on tracts over at my friend Danny's blog ... all are invited!

Matthew said...

Good work, Agent B and offspring. I had someone hand me a tract just a few days ago ... I guess I looked like a wayward youth. The thing was 50 pages long, I kid you not.

And way to come back with deep secrets ... who knew that demonic laughter went "Hee! Hee!"?

miller said...

i don't really respect this approach at all.

that doesn't mean i don't believe in the hearts of those passing them out.

but even if some do respond, look at what they're signing on for...

i don't know, i think the whole approach is destructive...


Amanda said...

"who knew that demonic laughter went "Hee! Hee!"?"

That was priceless! Seriously couldn't they come up with something a little more frightening? Anyways, I have to agree with Agent Wife. Reading this made me sad, everybody is a sinner. Not just the people in bars. And really what's wrong with going out and having a couple of drinks. I can see the problem if that's all you do. Please let me know exactly where and when the next meeting will be. My 5 year old will probably be really excited about picking up trash too.

your master, satan! said...

I find it absolutely wonderful that the christians who created as well those who distributed these tracts have encouraged littering.

I mean, hey - the enclosed instructions were, "...throw away that little piece of paper to the ground..."


danny said...

Thanks to Steve for noting the discussion on my blog.

That's quite a tract you found, maybe my tract giving experience would be more fruitful if I had used that one. Shame. (This is sarcasm, by the way).

As I said on my blog, I think that tract passing is not the best means of sharing the gospel. It does, at times, work. I pray that those churches who "lift these new converts up on a pedestal and say, 'these effors WORK'" will do so even more when a good friend leads a person to Christ through a consitently faithful witness.

Leanne said...

B, I am just stunned. I read that piece of hate and feel totally and completely assaulted. I feel as if I had been slapped in the face, spit on and then ground into the pavement beneath feet from Hell.

Reading that all I could think of was screaming, "You're talking about yourself and you don't even KNOW it!"

I'm serious. Anger and bile just rose up in me.

This is not God, B. This is not love. This is ugly and so help me if I ever run into these people 'cause it won't be pretty.

I was given tracts after I became a Christian and they were helpful in confirming things/outlining things.

I have given ONE type of tract out a handful of times after I've been told I was supposed to and I included my name and number on the back. It was written by a Pastor sold out on Grace and it's called, "You Are Loved". It's really beautiful and it reads as if you or I were talking to someone and unpacking things for them conversationally and compassionately.

I think we all need to be prepared to witness at any time but to also remember that we're not the one in the lead and that it really has very little to do with us, our approach, our comfort when it comes to Divine Appointments or the saving of a soul.

I'd want to leave the mother city too if that was the only Jesus to be seen. Guess that's why the CEO still has you and yours there, huh?

Agent B said...

"Guess that's why the CEO still has you and yours there, huh?"


...I GUESS so...

*shrugs confusingly*