It is called the bait and switch. That’s when one thing is advertised, usually at a great price, with the intention of substituting either something more costly or of less value. This tactic has been used for everything from automobiles to grocery store bargains. The goal is to get people in the door who otherwise would not be interested.
No one likes to be the subject of a bait and switch ruse. You may be asking what bait and switch has to do with the church. Plenty.
This quarter we have been looking at the Role of the Church in the Community. The emphasis, rightly so, has been the mission of the church. The church was organized for service. Serving our fellow man, both spiritually and physically is a major part of why we are banded together in church fellowship.
The integrity of our motives is called into question if our service and interest in non-members ends once they become members. Do we maintain the same care and concern in the formerly naked once they are clothed and in the formerly hungry once they are fed? Are we as concerned with meeting the real needs of our members as we are for those we are seeking to save? That answer should be always yes.
Service, meeting the needs of others, especially the less fortunate, is not meant to bait people into our fellowship. It is to be who we are — not what we use.
The early church of Acts still stands as the standard bearer for how a successful, growing church operates. One of its attributes was how members were cared for.
“And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” Acts 2:44-45
The early church was but a reflection of their Master. Their care for each other was without limits. No one lived unto themselves. No one felt the temporal blessings they enjoyed was for them alone. They were all a part of one body. That is consistent with how the Apostle Paul describes the church body.
“But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:24-26
When Jesus bade others to follow Him, His love and concern for them did not diminish. Jesus assured those who had left all to follow Him that they had made the right decision.
“So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.” Mark 10:29-30
Jesus’ goal was not to add disciples for the sake of numbers. Neither can that be the goal of the church. Our goal of engaging in acts of kindness and service must be more than a mechanism to increase our membership rolls. We love and care for others, especially those who are in the household of faith, because He first loved us and He has set the example for us to follow.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. Gal. 6:10