"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A little creepy?

At our local county fair, I came across two protestant, Christian (very westernized American) type churches that were running booths where they tried to draw in kids with give-aways.   Swell.  My kid of course liked the candy.  He liked the popcorn, too.

But I was shocked, really, shocked... at how utterly creepy I found both these churches seemed to the outside (albeit Christian) viewer (me). 

The first, JesusLovesMe Church (names changed to protect the blogger) gave out candy to the kids.  The person giving out the candy wasn't creepy himself and just saw my kid and said "can he have some candy."  What was creepy was the brochure about how heaven was better than candy, that was stuffed in the candy bag.  Okay, heaven is "sweeter than candy" nice.  But indoctrinating random seven year olds that "some people won't go to heaven because they don't believe Jesus" is a little much, don't you think?  Is this really the first impression you want to have, a fleeting one at that, with the non-Christian passerby?  Is your faith really all about fire-insurance and how some people (not us of course) will suffer an eternity in hell (yup, they said that to kids) because... blah blah blah. 

Now I'm not saying heaven and hell aren't orthodox beliefs.  They're just kind of creepy first impressions, don't you think?
And then we went over to JesusRUs (again named changed because I think I'm clever) where they told a gaggle of kids that they had popcorn and movies at church.  The creepy guy giving out popcorn (really it sounded kind of like child-luring the way he did it) turned to my child and said "would you like to hear a story."  My kid silently shook his head, no.  The guy offers me some tract... to which I replied "we already have a church" and then succumbed to my urge to grab my kid and relocate to another part of the fair.

Wow.  I bet we're doing some awesome evangelizing with that material.

Both of those churches have been at the fair for years.  Same schtick different year.  There are two others that come too, in their defense, they have utterly forgettable booths, but at least they don't actively freak people out.  One likes to raffle off a giant teddy bear every year.  My kid likes to enter.  And oddly enough they don't cold call all the phone numbers they collect.  I'm thankful.  The other is a Lutheran church of some sort, being typically mild mannered Lutherans, even at the fair.  Nice. 

And while I'm all for getting Christians out in the public square, it makes me wonder how this can possibly be effective.  Four churches that come to the fair every year, have the same place, all doing the same thing year after year.  Two totally unmemorable, two actively freakish. 

People remember the Christians that come alongside when you're needy, not the ones that make random fair appearances.  They tend to attend the church that ministered to them, not the one with the funniest sign.   They tend to stay in the church that takes them deeper in their faith and connects them to a community present and eternal, not the one with the loudest clang-bang excuse for a band. 

It makes me feel like the church, not all of the church but a visible majority here in America, has totally lost touch with what it is they have to offer and who it is who needs to receive.

Alas.

(Home from church today with a sniffly child...  When your church meets among elderly residents in an "independent living" facility, sometimes a sniffly child is just a fine reason to stay home... still, not being really sick myself, I feel like a schmoo.  Maybe that's making me cranky.  Maybe.)

3 comments:

  1. So these kids at the fair are learning that "The fear of Christians is the beginning of all wisdom"?

    I don't like the fact that our society commodifies everything, and when churches do the same its just one more sales pitch. Glad to see you writing some again.

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  2. Best is churches that help in times of need and pray for those needing the help, too. And you know that.

    And you also know that under that mild exterior, some Lutherans are REALLY HARD CORE.

    Glad we had this talk.

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  3. Thanks, it is kind of nice to be blogging again.

    Sales pitches... you're right. and it seems that the "sales pitch" is the opposite of relationship, so that in our relationship starved world, when we give the sales pitch we seem almost to exclude the possibility of relationship at the outset. And youth today are growing increasingly relationship starved and sales pitch oversaturated.

    Or have I spent too much of today in youth leader meetings?

    Dave: Hard core Lutherans... yes, I know a few. They're my favorite kind. Although more of the hard core Lutherans I know have eventually become Anglicans.

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