That's the statement, or something like it, that many a door knocking campaign has been founded upon. When a member of the local congregation, or the congregation as a whole, takes it upon himself to reach out to his community to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and teach people the one true way of salvation, there is often a "pitch", if you want to call it that, that the individual will say and by the end of the day that phrase or sentence has been ingrained into his mind to the point of him not even understanding the meaning of it, like when you look at a word for so long it doesn't look like it is spelled correctly any longer.
Cut to the congregation in another town. It is fall and the local church has decided to host a "Trunk or Treat" at the building in order to provide the children of the community with a safe atmosphere in which to gather their bounty for the year. The parking lot is full of cars and the tailgates are all down with piles of candy for the kids to take. At the entrance is a small table with a few brethren sitting and taking the contact information for those that attend the event, in return giving them a few tracts and some information about the congregation that meets at the building adjacent to the parking lot. Each family "hosting" the event are members of the congregation there and see many of their friends and family come through to receive their allotment of sugary goodness.
What is the difference in these two situations? One is a cleverly devised statement bent at making people think about the spiritual, the other a cleverly devised event bent at making the people of the community recognize members of the congregation and giving them the opportunity to learn the Word of God and think on the spiritual aspects of life. There is no difference, aside from the way in which the person is attracted.
Dictionary.com defines the word "gimmick" as, "an ingenious or novel device, scheme, or stratagem, especially one designed to attract attention or increase appeal." While both circumstances are clearly gimmicks, they have different purposes, all of which are advantageous to the preaching of the Gospel. While one is pointed, the other is rounded in its approach. However, both
- Allow people to meet the brethren and get a feeling for what type of upstanding individuals are part of the local Lord's church. (Philippians 1:27)
- Allow the people the chance to receive some Biblical teaching (Matthew 28:19-20)
- Allow for those contacted to have an outlet for discussion and interpersonal relationships needed in anyone's life, especially that of encouragement to attend the services of the church and think on the spiritual (cf. Hebrews 10:24).
The fact of the matter is, we all use gimmicks. Whether that gimmick is in the form of comment or candy (or any other physical thing), they are all for one specific purpose. - To get people to realize that the Lord's church cares and wants them to know the Truth.
However, there are some limits to which the local congregation must not go.
- We cannot support sinful activities! - This is the major point that needs to be made. The Lord's people must never utilize sin in order to preach the Gospel. Whether that sin is using deceit to get people interested or it is some other sinful practice or physical thing, it is still sin. There is no room for bending the Law of Christ in order to preach the Gospel!
- We must be good stewards of what has been given us. - There is an extreme in using things to attract attention. When a congregation spends money that they do not have or, in essence, "pays people to attend" then a line has been crossed.
- We must make sure that the focus of the event is the Gospel. - Too many times, Christians host such things as a "Trunk or Treat" without any thought about the spiritual. Remember, whenever someone comes in contact with the church of our Lord they need to leave knowing our focus is Christ.