It was a good old summertime family reunion. Everyone was there. The kids played in the park while the men cooked up their animals on the grill. The table was strewn with baked beans, slaw, potato salad, chips, fruit, brownies and all the rest.
Then it came time for family photos. These are the posed shots of various family “lines” within the larger family. I got nominated to take the pictures because there wasn’t anyone else on hand who could operate a point and shoot automatic. Let’s see, is everyone in the picture? Heads chopped off? Well then, it probably will do. That’s my level.
At the close of one family shoot, an older gentleman steps forward and I think he’s going to shake my hand, thank me for snapping the pics. But no. Instead, he puts a little religious tract into my hand. His wife says, “Well, honey, I think he’s a minister.” That, it soon appears, is not enough. “Of what church,” he asks, honing in on the salvation issue at hand. “Well, the Christian Church,” I retort cheerfully. His expression does not change. That, I guess, is not the right answer. “You know,” I continue, “a church of Christians, you know, Jesus people.” His expression softens, I suppose with mention of the “J” word. I place it back in his hand as I say, “So I won’t need this tract because I’m already on the team.” But the tract was like a boomerang and headed back to me, tucked in my shirt pocket with a gentle pat, like you’d pat a baby to sleep. “Then just keep it. You’ll know when the time is right to use it on someone.” That ended that.
1. I can’t think of a tract that could be more disgusting and reprehensible than the one he gave me. I threw it in the trash to make sure no unsuspecting soul accidentally picked it up and was turned away from the Christian faith one more time, given the opportunity to paint all Christians as fringe lunatics one more time.
2. I can’t think of a more ineffective way to attempt to communicate the gospel than this, to push a pre-fab comic-scaled story of salvation into a stranger’s hand. No, sharing our faith is about love, genuine relationships, sharing story and being a real human being with another, not finding conquests for your program.
Wake up, church. Tract religion is not working. It never did, really. Especially when crammed into the hand of your family reunion designated amateur photographer. Just have another hot dog, really.