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The million dollar bill

March 21, 2012

Many of you know that I work in a supermarket.  I took the job six years ago when I left missions and it was supposed to be temporary but I am still at it.  One thing you learn in customer service is that the world has all kinds of people in it.  Customers and coworkers come in endless varieties with many different personalities. 

One of the most common among customers is the person who more or less considers me an extension of the cash register.  They don’t talk to me, don’t look at me and usually don’t respond if I talk to them.  I am OK with this; I am there to help them, not the other way around.  When somebody gives off that vibe I just shut up and do my job.

Well, last night a guy came in who fit that mold to a “T”.  He didn’t respond to my greeting, made no eye contact, and said nothing.  OK, fine.  I finished and said “Have a nice night.” expecting and getting no answer.  As he grabbed his bags and turned to the door, just before he took off, he reached into his pocket and handed me something and said “This is for you.”  He then left at a brisk trot.  I looked down at what he gave me and it was a million dollar bill.

Now, it was not something that had me running to the ATM machine to make a deposit but it was a reasonable facsimile of U.S. currency.  I turned it over and in tiny print of the back, there was a message.  It was a gospel tract.  Among other things it said that I was “a lying, thieving, blasphemous adulterer.” It then told me to repent and put my trust in Jesus and to “read your Bible daily and obey it.”  I looked back up but the guy was long gone and, at the rate he left, he might have even been in the next county by then.

This is an example of what I call “hit and run” evangelism and I am skeptical about it.  Now, over the years I have seen the craziest methods of evangelism work.  No matter how outlandish it seems to me every method seems to have at least some success stories.  The other side of that coin is that no method I have ever seen rises anywhere close to a sure thing.  It always seems to me that God simply refuses to be put in a box.

But I am still troubled by the hit and run method.  It is impersonal, not speaking to me personally.  It leaves no room for questions or dialogue.  It may do more harm than good, annoying far more than it challenges.  But I am no expert.

So tell me, what do you think about this method?  Or do you have any great insights on ways to share your faith?


From → Christianity

  1. Steve Wilkins permalink

    Today I was doing an interior remodeling estimate for a lady. Her 14 year old daughter was home suffering from Momo. She looked like a sweet young lady, a splitting image of her mother. I told her that I would pray for her. That seemed to spark both of their spirits. I told her how I kept a log of my prayers for a two year period and how amazing it was to see the answers, how they were answered and the overwelming abundance in the answers. They both seamed very interested in the subject. I told them that God was a loving father and would be happy to help her if she just asked him for help. I told her her about the three commands of action that God requests; ask, seek & knock.

    When I go back in a couple of days for the follow up, I will let her know that I have been praying for her. I’ve planted the seed. Either I or someone else will be there for the harvest. You can’t expect a Harvest if you don’t plant the seed.

  2. Yes! Hit and Run Evangelism – I’ll steal that for a sermon sometime. The best evangelism is out of relationship; we’ve got to listen before we preach. I experienced lots of H&R Evangelism when I was an atheist . . . none of it was effective. But the seeds planted by those who took the time to build a relationship were the ones the Holy Spirit used to blossom into faith.

  3. Pat Dolwick permalink

    Tom … thanks for the post. Enlightening as always.

    No great insights here. Share some of your concerns about “hit & run” methods and the gimmicky nature of some evangelism tools (which sometimes seem somewhat “beneath” the creator of the earth and heavens), but also agree that God can use them if He chooses to. Personally, I’ve always been of the opinion that the most effective evangelism takes time and probably works best in the context of an existing relationship (when you know at least a little bit about the details of someone’s life and what they love/need/fear/etc). Maybe that’s a cop out … but the “as we are going” approach appeals more to me than heading out to the street corners. But again … who knows what seeds get planted where?

    I’m sure this has been an extremely helpful comment …

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