We cooked up this plan to “share the love of Christ” by buying a bunch of bottled water with custom labels of our church logo on them. We went out to the park and handed out these bottles of water and “shared the Gospel” with people. The truth is, however, there wasn’t really any true gospel shared with anyone. It went off more like a clever marketing technique.
Another time, we went around and found people during the week whose lawn needed a good mowing and on Saturday, teams of mowers would go around and mow these lawns. We even had a “public relations” guy who contacted the local paper and we even took a video crew along with some of the mowers. We did ask most of these people if they needed prayer for anything before we left, but again very little gospel was shared.
Although I was a new Christian at the time, I remember being confused about these “outreaches”. They seemed to me like we were more into tooting our own horn than sharing the gospel. In all honesty, even though I didn’t understand why at the time, I was a little sick to my stomach about both events.
For a couple of years now, my former church has had a program of distributing half price food. In other words, people pre-order $20 boxes of food and receive approximately $40 of groceries. The food certainly will sustain life, but it’s low quality processed food that goes a long way toward contributing to a whole list of health problems. During these distributions, not one mention of the gospel.
This is one area where I struggle to understand what our role, as Christians, is in the area of “humanitarian aid”. There’s a host of organizations, the Peace Corps for example, that provide humanitarian aid without one ounce of gospel. In other words, is handing someone a bottle of water “the gospel”?
It seems to me like so many, if not most, of our Christian outreach programs resemble something more of a secular “bait and hook” marketing technique or even worse, something that placates our consciences to ease our guilt for not actually confronting the lost with the true gospel.
I’m aware the Bible tells us to care for the felt needs of our fellow-man. But what’s the limit? As the articles linked above state, what good does it do for someone to head into Hell with a nice set of clothes and a full stomach?