Evangelism vs. Purpose Driven Marketing at Super Bowl LII, Minneapolis Minnesota

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Regretfully I did not get a chance to labor the Gospel at this year’s Superbowl game in Minneapolis. But thankfully many other Christians had their boots on the ground. Thankfully those Christians were faithful and diligent  in laboring and heralding the glorious Gospel to the multitudes.

While these faithful Heralds were laboring, they realized that some Christians from the nearby Bethlehem Baptist Church of Minneapolis were also on scene. Sounds like a good thing right? But according to these Heralds, Bethlehem Baptist Church (BBC) were distributing the above postcards. Are these Gospel tracts? Is this sharing the whole counsel of God? Is this orthodox evangelism? The answer is “no – no – no.” At best they were a truncated Gospel, at worse they were a marketing gimmick, inviting others to their church.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to invite others to church, on a rare occasion I will, but please don’t call it “evangelism,” because it is not. To call that evangelism is insulting to the many martyrs that were martyred  for sharing the Gospel.

Years ago I led the evangelism team at a previous church. One day the pastor’s wife asked our team to canvas the large apartment complex directly across the street from our church, with invitation cards  to our church. I struggled with that, but how do you tell the pastors wife no. The church printed up thousands of cards, and gave them to us. I examined them, and saw that there was no Law and no Gospel presentation on the cards. That’s all they were, was an invitation to our church. To please the pastor’s wife, and to foster a spirit of unity, I got the team together and advised them that the only  way we would do this, is to distribute a Gospel tract  alongside every invitation card. Therefore every apartment door (or occupant) received both an invitation card, and a Gospel tract.

Back to the Superbowl game.

As others stated in a Facebook post, these postcards that BBC distributed are a fruit of Rick Warren’s unbiblical Purpose Driven Life. Rather than the church (ecclesia) go out into the world and preach (or share) the glorious Gospel, instead they invite the worldlings into their buildings that they wrongfully call “church,” and then their church  emulates the world. In this case, BBC is making themselves relevant and attractive to the world.

As you can see on the front side of their above invitation, they sport (pun-intended) a graphic of a football, and a hotdog (I mean a “hot brat”). On the backside it says, “Come as you are for a brief service and a free meal.” The world would translate that to, “Come wearing your favorite team’s jersey, and come drunk as you are” (though my own church is not perfect, I’m sure glad that we don’t see anyone wearing sports jerseys or baseball hats in our sanctuary).

But to make matters worse, their postcard displays John 3:16 out of context (wouldn’t it be great if their printer accidentally printed verse 36).

Interestingly the Herald that brought this to our attention previously attended Bethlehem Baptist Church, and at that time their Pastor was the well-known John Piper. He advised that when Piper was behind their pulpit, they sent out Heralds to preach  the glorious Gospel to the worldlings, but at this Superbowl game they are demonstrating Rick Warren’s friendship evangelism  model, as they invite the worldings to their church. Furthermore, he advised that presently they no longer preach in the streets, but instead they practice “friendship evangelism” (although I think it’s reasonable to say that Piper went in this direction before he left, video #1 /video #2).

Here’s a learning curve for all of us, and I strive to find a healthy reasonable balance.

Though I believe it is Biblically important that every Christian (and evangelist) be accountable to their own local church. There is a fraction of the Lord’s church that teach, believe, and demand  that before an Evangelist (or Herald) can go out to share the Gospel, that they must be sent-out  by their own local church. Ideally I agree, this should  be the case. But sadly, the problem is, a majority of ‘churches’ across America do not send evangelists out period. Moreover, probably over 95% of churches do not send-out Heralds.

On the other hand, to make matters even more complicated. There is an even smaller fraction of Christians that teach, believe, and demand that each Evangelist (or Herald) that was already sent-out  by their own local church, that before they can evangelize (or Herald) in another city, state, or far-off place, that they must be received  and then sent-out again  by a local church in that  particular geographical area. Brethren God is not the author of confusion.

Though ideally that seems to be a good plan, that two different churches (both the sender & the receiver) are working in concert together, to maintain accountability, and to be readily available and resourceful to each Evangelist (or Herald). But realistically  speaking, not many churches are Herald friendly  (possibly over 95% of them). Furthermore, I also believe it can become legalistic to demand that of others.

Sadly I’ve seen one Herald boast online how he is always under a receiving  church, but worse, he rails  on other Christians for not following his example. Brethren we ought to strive to be as Biblical as possible, but when we legislate our own personal policies, or denominational rules  upon others, that too strays into legalism. In the meantime every 24-hours 160,000 humans die in this world.  In the meantime most local churches are like Laodicea or Sardis.

At this particular Superbowl game, thankfully many Christians from all over the U.S.A. were on scene for one purpose, to share the glorious Gospel. But imagine if they all had been either sent-out  and/or received  under the leadership and direction of Bethlehem Baptist Church; frankly the Gospel most likely would not have been shared. Instead all the money spent on travel costs to Minneapolis, would have been spent on inviting the multitudes to BBC for a “brief service and a free meal.” Bear in mind that most people at this game where from out of town, so BBC was not a practicable option for them.

Paul told us to redeem our time wisely, and to walk circumspectly, and we ought to be good stewards with the finances that the Lord provides via our contributors. At events like this, where you will most likely never see these people again, I believe we ought to make an effort to maximize our effectiveness, by getting the unredacted Gospel message to as many people as possible.

Lastly, never forget, that only the Lord can build His true church. In the below 90-second video is a lesson on that subject (this video is providential, as it was just published).

As always brethren –Love ‘biblically’ – repent – be salt and light – be holy – be sanctified – fear God – pray without ceasing – keep His commandments – put on the whole armor of God (and use it) – walk circumspectly – believe in and trust Jesus – obey the Gospel – share the Gospel – preach the Gospel – contend for the faith, – disciple each other, hate the things that God hates, and love the things that God loves – keep the faith, work-out your salvation, and endure to the end!

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