As a Christian, I want to make use of every opportunity to evangelise. I want everyone to know about what Jesus has done for them and that they too can be one of God’s people. And as a youth minister, I am especially interested in going into high schools and reaching those school students who don’t know him. But the question is: how do I do this in the most effective and appropriate way? Some people think Exo Days are the way to go. But as I discovered whilst listening to Triple J news this morning, not everyone is happy about this.
Read about the controversy here.
Exo Days are designed for high school students to show their friends at school that “life is excellent with Jesus.” They’re fun events with a gospel message integrated into the run of things. The problem with Exo Days, as highlighted by the article, is that they are seen as covert evangelism. It appears people aren’t aware they are showing to an event where they will be told about Jesus. I came because there was a barbeque. You didn’t say you’d be telling me to convert.
From my experiences of Exo Days, I’m not a big fan. To me, they’re one big Bait-And-Switch. All of the fun stuff that is planned is made the focus, and then, when people are in the swing of things and really enjoying themselves, the music is turned off and someone stands up and tells them why they should be a Christian. To me, it feels like false advertising. Like you need to hide the gospel from people and spring it on them, like hiding a child’s vegetables inside a rissole. The Bait-And-Switch feels dishonest. And as Christians we are called to be tellers of truth. Colossians 3:9-10 says “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self”. The ends do not justify the means. If we shouldn’t lie, then we should be open and honest about our methods to evangelise.
When I’ve gone into schools as either a Scripture teacher or to present a Christian seminar, there has always been an option to not participate. When a student walks through the door, they know that I am there to teach them about Jesus. Whether the event is opt in (you choose to come) or opt out (you choose if you don’t want to go), there is a choice. With an Exo Day, this choice is diminished if you don’t have enough information to make a choice.
I’ve been to too many Church band nights where the main draw was the music. And when the music stops and the talk starts, people feel ripped off. They feel like they’ve been lied to. And this is not condusive to the gospel. As youth ministers, we need to think through carefully what events we run and how we run them. Because I don’t think that the Bait-And-Switch accurately represents our Father.
How would I feel if a group from another religious affiliation was running Exo Days in schools? If an organisation rallied their young people together to put on an event that would lure people in and then try and convert them to their god? If they did it in such a way that people didn’t know what they were getting into? I’d be upset. I may even be furious. I would stand up and say something. So why should I feel any different when it is Christians doing it? I NSW we have many open and valid ways to get into schools. Let’s be transparent and honest in our evangelism. Because I am not ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16). So why should I act in a way that says otherwise?