At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, I was a bit peeved this week to get some unsolicited mail from a Christian publishing/resources company. From Facebook correspondence with friends it seems that I’m not the only Baptist minister to do so. I could tell that this was unsolicited and not from a mailing lists to which I had previously subscribed because of the name they used on the address label: I don’t often refer to myself as Lord Twinkle-Toes Parsnip-Breath the Third!
I’m trying to work out why most annoyed. I don’t think it’s merely the arrival of unsolicited mail from a Christian company, although I would hope that their business ethics are better than some spammers. I don’t think it’s even the nomenclature that they used [wow, my voice recognition software knew the word ‘nomenclature’] – which wasn’t actually Lord Twinkle-Toes Parsnip-Breath the Third – which nobody who knows me uses to address me. It may be partly a sense of frustration that someone has either sold my contact details, given them free of charge, or this company has been particularly sneaky in obtaining them. But I think it’s mostly that my love-hate relationship with the Christian subculture has once again raised its ugly head.
I realise that we need resources for our churches to be able to fulfil our mission most effectively. I realise that in order to provide these resources in a commercial setting companies need to promote their products. But I really don’t need brass candlesticks, a thurible and stand, or ornate chasubles and scarves; and I have no interest whatsoever in a range of kitchen wear with the words and music from popular hymns emblazoned on them! It’s the latter that really bugs me: why do Christians need special tea towels, aprons and oven gloves? How is that going to fulfil the Great Commission? In these days of scarce resources haven’t we got better things to spend our money on?
Having now got this off my chest my grumpage levels are coming down. So perhaps I had better reflect a little. Are there things that I am doing or saying that are completely irrelevant to the Great Commission? Are there aspects of our church life that are similarly irrelevant and the equivalent of having the words and music from popular hymns printed on our tea towels? And are there ways in which we are seeking to communicate the good news of Jesus that are the equivalent of junk mail? Is this at how people receive street evangelism, or people who knock on their doors and ask them if they have heard about Jesus?
Some pondering is needed I think!
Be blessed, be a blessing.
A minister was opening his post one morning. Drawing a single sheet of paper from an envelope, he found written on it only one word: “FOOL.”
The next Sunday he announced, “I have known many people who have written letters and forgot to sign their names. But this week I received a letter from someone who signed his name and had forgotten to write a letter.”