Freshman year of college I got involved with a campus ministry at ECU. We had this weekly meeting on Thursday nights meant to be for outreach to the lost college students (in a spiritual sense, not just freshmen who couldn’t find their way around campus) to get ‘em in somewhere and hear about Jesus.
Now, you can’t just say to someone, “Hey, come to this thing at the student center on Thursday to hear about Jesus!” There has to be a hook. Don’t the Apostles use hooks in the book Acts? They are fishermen, for goodness’ sake. Anyway, the hook for the Thursday night meetings was some kind of skit or something and then someone would share their testimony about how they became a Christian.
The skits were a lot of fun to produce. I was involved with a few. There was a guy who did a great Chris Farley impression and some of us recreated the original sketch from SNL featuring Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker (I played Phil Hartman’s role). Another time we did a musical number from the Planet of the Apes the Musical. Another time some guy produced a video Matrix spoof. All this was great fun. The entertainment part of the show took about 15-20 minutes and usually garnered great responses. I want to say there was a singing component, too… And then someone would give a five minute testimony – five minutes to communicate to an audience of thirty or more how his or her life had been changed forever.
About 40 minutes of entertainment, five minutes about God.
Now, this was over ten years ago. I have no idea how things are going now. But since that time, I’ve observed similar happenings. It could be youth conferences, church events, other ministry events, whatever, there has to be some kind of thing to grab people’s attention and then, oh yeah, now that you’re here you’re going to hear about the gospel.
Lately, I’ve been observing a theme emerging from different sermons I’ve listened to, blogs I’ve read, and conversations I’ve had with people: Why use a hook? The Apostles did not use hooks; Jesus did not use hooks; Paul did not use hooks – they just went around proclaiming the gospel. Now, I don’t mean in the fashion of the street preachers you sometimes see, though sometimes they would get into a discussion and then draw a crowd, but that was because their message was their hook. And not only their message, but their obvious belief in that message manifested in how they lived.
When I think of hooks (aside from fishing equipment or villainous captains) I think of sleazy salesmen trying to huckster unsuspecting fools – that is to say, taking advantage of people. Saying all that to say, many people use hooks with good intentions. I mean, who hasn’t at some point in their life? But, we all know what road good intentions pave. Perhaps we just need to believe what the Bible says; perhaps we just need to believe in the power of the gospel and not secondary means.