Stealth Ministry

This weekend is the Luis Palau City Fest in downtown Nashville. Among other reasons, I wanted to take my kids to see the Veggie Tales guys live on stage. When we got there we found that we were surrounded by (reportedly) 60k people.We watched Stephen Baldwin hock his appearance on TBN’s Praise The Lord (regular readers will know how much that excited me) and a video game from the Left Behind books where he said we, “pray people into the kingdom” or some such thing.Never mind him – the dirt bike trick-riders were up. Right on the waterfront they set up a huge jump so that three riders from Team Faith could demonstrate tricks for us. And then did. I was greatly impressed when the final rider did a back flip. After that we were finally on to the main event (for us): Bob and Larry.

After we sat on the rug-covered blacktop for 30 minutes the two vegetables (and some penguins) came out in their costumes, pretended to be interactive while two ill-fitting songs played, and then were ushered off stage.

I was feeling ripped off – even though it was free! 🙂

Then a comedian ventriloquist came on stage and seemingly made the day for us all. This guy was great fun and his simple message about saying “Yes to Jesus and No to the devil” was easy to enjoy. At the end of the performance, after telling us where we could buy his puppets and DVDs, he asked everyone to pray with him. By this point, every little kid in the audience loved him and gladly bowed their heads.

It’s right here that the whole thing went downhill for me.

He asked the kids to recite the prayer of salvation.

These are little kids, aged 2 and up. There was no warning on what was happening. These kids had no idea – and couldn’t possibly understand – what this stealth minister was saying and doing for them.

After the “prayer” was over the comedian asked anyone who prayed with him to raise their hands so that his helpers in white hats could give them a gift and talk with them. Of course, the kids had no idea what they had prayed for so everyone raised their hands even the church going kids.

My two daughters, aged 7 and 4, both raised their hands. Even though my 7 year old has had some pretty insightful conversations with me about God, I don’t consider her old enough to understand what they were asking for. When my youngest daughter wanted to get the coloring book raised her hand again I told her no and we left.

As I was leaving, I saw what the helpers had in their hands – “Children’s Response Forms”. Pre-printed, premeditated stealth ministry.

If you ask any church-goer what would happen to a child should they die they will undoubtedly tell you that they would go to Heaven because they were under the age of accountability (generally understood to be around age 13 but it depends on the intelligence and understanding of the child.) So, if these little kids were to die they would go to heaven because they lack the intelligence to understand their sin and their need for a savior… apparently that is no hindrance to us “saving” them.

They may not understand, but thank God we got them to repeat words that a comedian said.

If they were the puppet in the mans hands it would have been no different. In fact, in my opinion, these children are as saved as his puppets.

I believe that events like this weaken our witness to the world. If we are willing to defy reason (and our own doctrines) just to get numbers on a “Saved List” then we are not trustworthy.

How can we present Truth and then at the same time be perverters of the Truth?