How Not to Be a Christian Pest


Dana Carvey as The Church LadyMy Cerulean Sanctum email inbox fills daily with “helpful” notes from Christian PR companies telling me about another Christian book I’m not going to read. Or a Christian movie I’m not going to see. Or some other Christian “event” that threatens to shake the pillars of heaven because of its importance in human history but which I won’t attend.

I can almost guarantee that no one sending me those emails is asking, If it were me, would I want to be on the receiving end of this spam? Is this how I want someone else to treat my inbox?

The sad truth is that those folks would probably find a way to justify a response of yes—and find Bible verses to support their position.

But they’ve simply forgotten the Golden Rule of do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I think a lot about the Golden Rule of Jesus when I interact with other people. Anymore, I keep it ever before me. I try always to put myself in the other person’s shoes.

I wish more people did that.

And I wish more Christians did that not only in their emailing me but also in how they evangelize others.

We know that the Gospel message is the difference between life and death. Eternal death. We know.

But most people don’t get it. To them, our insistence on pressing that message only turns them off. To them, the message is spam. And we’re spamming them.

We’re not thinking the Golden Rule when it comes to evangelism.

Some people are ready to hear, and some people aren’t. The reason we’re not as effective in evangelizing as we should be is that we’re practically deaf to the Spirit. The Spirit knows which people are ready to hear. We should be listening to the Spirit. By not listening to the Spirit’s leading on who is ready and who is not, we only make the unready think we’re spamming them with the Gospel. Then they close down. Perhaps forever.

When the Spirit does alert us to someone who is ready to hear, are we remembering the Golden Rule? Are we presenting the Gospel in a way that we would want to hear it? Do we want to feel manipulated by someone else’s words or their delivery? Don’t we hate it when salesmen pull sales techniques out their bag of tricks and use them on us? Don’t we hate it when we’re made to feel like little more than one more number closer to the monthly quota?

We don’t have to come off as pests. The way to keep from being a Christian pest is to always remember the Golden Rule. In all things, how do we wish to be treated? We should then treat others the same way.

That not only applies to spammy PR emails, it applies to all interactions we have with lost people. It even applies to evangelism.

Are we pests? Or are we Spirit-attuned, empathetic bearers of the best possible news?

10 thoughts on “How Not to Be a Christian Pest

  1. David

    I sometimes think that the Christian church, as exemplified and amplified by Christ, would be far more “under the radar” than it is. The main reason being that Christ practiced “the personal relationship”, not evangelism as we know it today. Jesus sat at the well and talked to a person, He did not “broadcast”.

    No political rallies, no stump speeches, no pulpits, no pamphlets. If Christ sent an e-mail, it would be To: You, not bcc: Everyone. The New Testement is a series of letters, not a how-to book.

    Pests? In the old testement, the pest were locusts, devouring everything in their path. The only being that applies to is Satan, seeking whom he may devour. It is anti-Christ, I wouldn’t want it to apply to body of Christ.

    • David,

      Agreed. I like the image of the Church in America as a winsomely subversive organization undermining the kingdom of Satan. As such, we would be much more underground and would call less attention to our efforts.

      Sorry if my use of the word pest draws the wrong illustration. Didn’t mean it that way. Meant more along the lines of bothersome than Satan’s minions. 🙁

      • George,

        A few comments:

        1. What happened to the crowds Jesus preached to? They left Him. On the other hand, what happened to the individuals He gave His personal attention to? They stayed, didn’t they? They formed the Church, not the crowds.

        2. What has happened to open-air, crusade ministries today in America? Fact is, there’s a better way to evangelize for the times we live in now.

        3. Going back to Jesus, the words He spoke have lasted because they were written down, even those shrugged off then by the crowds. Your words and mine probably won’t, at least not as directed to the public. Individuals might benefit from ours, though.

        4. Our methodology today must be directed toward the individual. Gospel preaching is in “mop-up mode” in the West, as almost everyone has heard of Jesus. What they haven’t had is a Christian individual who walks beside them and lives the talk. That’s what is needed now. Anything else runs the risk of becoming background noise to people who are dying for more than some passing person who knocks on their door and gives off a door-to-door salesman vibe.

  2. Kristen

    So true!

    I recently attended a group that was studying a particular method of evangelism. I felt a twinge of guilt for not being on board with it. There wasn’t a single mention of the Holy Spirit – listening to, being prompted by or relying on Him. It focused more on one certain approach, which may be effective in some cases, but not all. And it relied heavily on tracts, some of them rather gimmicky. Now that you mention it, it did have a very spammy feel to it. I’d like to think that the heart behind it was right, and it did encourage me to really think and pray about the importance of evangelism. But I’m guessing that at least some lost people have been turned off by evangelism like that…

  3. Bradley

    Excllent post Dan. This very thing has been on my heart a lot recently. I wish the church would stop trying to act like a business that’s trying to sell a product. It just doesn’t work that way.

  4. Laura W.

    Dan, you have touched upon what bothers me about most Christian outreach today, not just evangelism. If we use the world’s methods, is it any wonder that we fail?

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