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27 November 2009

giving free stuff away on black friday

I'm going for a more raw, gritty, in-your-face post title today. I figure that will bring in the readers in droves.

I'm not sure why today is called "Black Friday". (By the way, Tony, it's acceptable in British writing to put the punctuation outside of the quotation marks. I lost sleep over that after your tweet the other day because I'd forgotten why I started doing that. I am henceforth pretending I'm a Briton.) So anyway, I'm not sure why they call today "Black Friday". If it were called "White Friday" would there be any accusations of racism? And is it called "Black Friday" because it's a dark day for the people who decide that it's worth battling the massive crowds to save a few percent on an item? I'm curious. Not curious enough to Google it, though. I'm fairly contented not knowing for sure.

Our Jr. High "Guy" at Wall Highway, Josh Harris, coordinated an event that several of us enjoyed this morning. At 4:00 AM we left the Wall Highway campus, taking boxes of donuts (the ones in a pre-packaged tubes of six) and things, along with two of those big tailgate cooler-looking dealios filled with hot chocolate. We arrived at Best Buy around 4:15. I thought the line (as seen in the photo) was long, and then I talked with someone who let me know that the line went around the corner, and had extended around the corner as of 3:30 AM (probably earlier -- that was when they'd arrived).

Our intrepid band of Christ followers, armed with food and hot drinks, began to hand out these things to the people standing in line. Several people were obviously shocked that we were giving this stuff away. A few refused it until I said, "It's free," with a smile. Their faces immediately brightened and their eyes widened. We had the opportunity to tell people that we were doing this because we love Jesus Christ and just wanted to serve other people.

It was a small; one that lasted about 15 minutes. Josh had set aside junk food rations for about 100 people.

At one point I walked nearer the end of the line to give out donuts, and as I was coming back around the building, there was a man walking toward me next to the line, holding up the tube of donuts I'd given him less than a minute before, saying, "$10.00! $10.00!" I said, "Man, don't do that," and turning to the people in line, with a smile said, "I just gave him those things for free." People started to laugh. He smiled and looked at me and said, "Hey, I was just kidding," and walked back to his place in line. In retrospect, it may have seemed like I was saying that we'd done something good. In reality, I just didn't appreciate him wanting to rip people off.

That was our experience this morning. Getting up at 3:00 wasn't as tough as I'd anticipated, and being able to go back to sleep from about 6:30 until 10:00 made for a great, lazy day.

Hope your Thanksgiving was fantastic, and may you always set aside a time of daily thanksgiving to your Creator!


dubdynomite said...

The general consensus is that the moniker "Black Friday" came from the idea that it was that day that retailers would begin to get "into the black" for the year. The retailers gave it this name.

It was a big shopping day before advertisers made a big deal out of it. The black Friday deals are just the retailers way of getting shoppers into the stores, where they usually spend more money on things other than just the loss leaders.

This idea you guys had is a good way to counter all the commercialism of the season with some real Christmas cheer.

Leroy said...

Great example of serving Christ and serving others. I wish I would have gotten my lazy, er effecient, self out of bed. :)

BTW, I believe the rule is the punctuation goes inside the quotes when the entire sentence is in quotes; otherwise, it goes outside.

"You can't do that."

He told me "you can't do that".

Preston N said...

Dean - please dont take this the wrong way but where in the scriptures can you support this type of "outreach"?

I have often struggled with this type of outreach as to what purpose it truly serves. Here is why:

In order to show the sinner he/she is rooted in selfishness, they must first be personally confronted with their own selfishness in contrast to the selflessness of Christ on the Cross. I would submit this will never be accomplished by handing out "goodies". As a matter of fact this may only further embolden the sinner in his or her selfishness. How so? A perfect example is the gentlemen who had just received the donut from Dean. What did he do with this so-called gift? He turned around and was going to sell it for his own selfish gain ($10 I might add). I realize he said he was joking but I would submit that this is showing the real insight to a heart of a sinner. Was this guy’s heart so impressed by another person’s generosity that he saw his own sinfulness? Clearly his reaction is very foretelling as to the overall impression this act of generosity made upon him. If we truly want to show or share the “Love of Christ” I would submit handing out donuts or hot chocolate will never bring to a sinners to a place of humility, but only further their happiness that they came out at 3am to stand in a Best Buy line and someone treated them to some freebies. The mind of a sinners is one that thinks “Why wouldn’t someone bring me (us) donuts at 3am? I love who I am so why wouldn’t they want to give me some free stuff?"

Next, the bible (and Jesus) is clear that we are first to help those who can not help themselves (ie. widows and orphans, those who are helpless, etc). Clearly, those who are able to stand out in the cold at 3am in a Black Friday line at Best Buy are not in any of these categories. Is this really spending Kingdom money wisely? Please don’t get me wrong, but Paul says that a man who does not work does not eat – so clearly all these folks apparently had jobs and are not starving to death.

So what would have been a better way of sharing the “love of Christ” with the folks standing in line at Best Buy at 3am? I would probably say preaching the gospel and showing people that their hearts are full of selfishness. I realize that's not a popular message and isn't as "warm and fuzzy" as handing out donuts, but I think it might be a lot more effective. I never recall anyone getting saved as a result of an act of kindness, but only through the revelation of God's Word in their hearts.

What I do find is that most that engage in this type of outreach are doing so to draw people to their church. Call it what you will but this is mostly just another form of advertisement for someone's church and sinners are typically quick to see through this too.

Let me add this - I see no where in the account of Acts where people handed out freebies to bring people to the Lord. Yes, widows were taken care of, but I don't see this strategy being used, where the apostles went out handing out free unleavened bread for no apparent reason. Yes, the apostles were well known for their acts of kindness, but this was generally because of them taking care of the helpless in their communities.

Again, I realize I may come off being cynical here, but I have often struggled with this type of outreach. If I am way off base in my thinking here please let me know.

Dean Lusk said...

Thanks foe the comments, and dub, great to have you! I think you've commented before, but I may just be thinking about tweets.

Preston, I had to scan your comment quickly, and I have not had a chance to re-read my post to see if I alluded to doing this as "outreach," but I did this simply because I thought it would brighten someone's day. I didn't expect converts, honestly. It wasn't an outreach event. Josh is a friend who is the Jr. High Guy. It obviously sounded like this was supposed to be a church-sponsored "evangelism event." Dub summarized it well by mentioning "Christmas cheer." My poor writing skillz at work.

As to your question about whether or not this was a wise use of kingdom money, I think I'd have to say, "No, in retrospect it wasn't." It was a small amount, but we need to be faithful and wise in the small things. And I personally think it's good to put things like this under the microscope as you've done.

I'm on the same page with you as far as churches and outreach, etc. Do you remember the post called "bring them in?" That should directly state where I am
on that, and I believe I agree with you (or, you agree with me -- I think I'm older!) :-)

Perhaps better clarity would be a good thing next time.

Preston N said...

Dean - it could have been I could have read the post a little more clearly. Again, I don't want to come off as being a Scrooge, but I thought this was a "church outreach" event. Again sorry if I read too much into the text here. I think I know you pretty well and your position on such things, but just wanted to make sure something hadn't changed.

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.

Leroy said...

A general comment...

What may be more "appealing" to a sinner? 1) Generosity/concern; to which the sinner asks "why are you doing this" to which we reply "I'm just showing the love of Christ by serving others"; or 2) "preaching the gospel and showing people that their hearts are full of selfishness".

People are more likely to be turned on to listening to the Word through generosity and to be turned off when we preach that their hearts are black and full of selfishness.

I'm not saying they don't need to hear it (because they do), I'm just saying we need to be tactful about HOW we say it.

Standing on the corner preaching at people isn't the only way the Holy Spirit works. To me a good example is Philip and the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-40). Philip took time to preach TO him and not AT him.

Preston N said...

I would have to say that the example of the Ethopian is unique, as he is a person whom the Spirit of God had apprently been ministering to for sometime and whom had a prepared heart.

We see from the text that the Ethopian was already in a state of seeking truth and knowledge of who God was and it is apparent through God leading Philip to the Ethiopian, who had a ready heart, but was in need of knowledge in how to be saved. In the words of Jesus and the parable of the sower - the Ethopian was the equivalent of some well prepared and good soil by which to plant the Word of God into his heart and take root. I would say that most sinners are fallow ground category and are in need of being tilled and broken up (ie harden hearts).

I would suggest that the only way to break up the fallow ground of a sinner is to crush their selfishness and pride under the weight of the cross of Christ. Sinners must be brought to a place where their pride is confronted and then they are broken and brought to a place of total humility. This is why I tend to shy away from evangelism tactics that tend to appeal to the selfish sensibilities of a sinner - such as freebies or handing out $1 bills (I actually went to a church once that did this!). For me this is nothign more than a "bait-n-switch" tactic. I hate having it done to me in the secular so I tend not to do it in the spiritual.

Leroy said...

"This is why I tend to shy away from evangelism tactics that tend to appeal to the selfish sensibilities of a sinner".

How do you appeal to someone if the method being used (whatever it may be) doesn't appeal but instead repels?

Not every person that needs Christ can handle a blunt force trauma delivery of the truth. I'm not saying bait-n-switch, but instead know your "audience".

Truth is truth, however truth delivered just for the sake of delivering it (without love) isn't much more than rule-keeping.

Preston N said...

Mat 11:16-19 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the marketplaces, who call unto their fellows (17) and say, We piped unto you, and ye did not dance; we wailed, and ye did not mourn. (18) For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a demon. (19) The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold, a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! And wisdom is justified by her works.

As noted from the verse above God cannot please a sinner. Sinners by their own choice, despise God and at the same time despise the Devil. On one hand they hate God's righteousness and on the other hate the devils wickedness. Therefore, the gospel in of itself "repels" sinners. As Charles Finney once stated:

"Sinners should not be following their feelings (sensibilities), but obey the voice of conscience"

Most evangelisitic efforts today try to appeal to the sinners feelings, rather than their conscience. What I take issue with is an attempt to make the sinner "feel" good and stick to appealing to their conscience - which is a much more effective tool when it comes to evangelism.

What I am NOT saying is that we are to be mechanical or rigid in our efforts - as I agree with you that we must know our audience, but at the same time be careful in not appealling strictly to someone's feeling or emotions.

As Jesus said, I come not to bring peace, but a sword (Word of God). People didn't hate and kill Jesus because he was a "nice guy", but because he preached the truth. A good indicator your preaching "Jesus Style" is people will hate you for the loving truth you bring to them. If we are not being hated by the world, then maybe we need to evauluate our methods.

Leroy said...

"What I am NOT saying is that we are to be mechanical or rigid in our efforts - as I agree with you that we must know our audience, but at the same time be careful in not appealling strictly to someone's feeling or emotions."


In addition to that, we have to be careful not to defame Christ while we set ourselves apart from the world. Hm, I'm not sure that sounds the way I mean it.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that we think of ourselves as judge and jury with regard to serving others in the name of Jesus? Not all of us are the feet, not all the hands, not all the get that, I'm sure, yet it seems some still think they have a corner on the market with "their" methods, ideas, etc.
Judgement will come and we certainly should not look for that from any man but should all serve as God has called us to do.

Another thought...why judge all of the recipients of a gift by the actions of one who obviously had the wrong mindset? Could it be this man was confronted by his own selfishness as Dean said he made the point about not selling it? While it may take time, he obviously met with objections and we can pray he changes.

Jesus did serve by providing food to the group as He preached to them - He filled the physical as He fed the spiritual. Again, not everyone will hear the message of love in any gift (true giving without judgement), yet love was demonstrated and the seed was planted. God will handle the hearts as He has designed.

Christmas is upon us and sadly what bigger opportunity for greed and selfishness exists? Most even instill it in their children that it's about bicycles, computers, games and "what did you get?" Why not practice at home what we "know" to be truth and then make our lives speak the love of Christ?

Not aiming at anyone except myself, just thoughts.

Preston N said...

Anonymous said: I'm sure, yet it seems some still think they have a corner on the market with "their" methods, ideas, etc.

I'll let history speak for itself and that is when we look throughout history as to what "method" was the most successful in reaching the lost (and retaining them I might add) was that of the American and Welsh revivals and Great Awakenings. Finney and Whitfield all used the same methods of preaching. From what I can see today and the methods being used by most churches - the result are heartbreaking and appalling. Where are the Finneys, the Edwards or the Whitfields, where are the Tozers or the Ravenhills? I guess they aren't relevent any longer....

Dean Lusk said...

I tried to keep it short, but couldn't. This means most of you probably won't make it to the end of my comment.

First, thank you guys (and ladies?) for these comments. I agree with parts of everything I've read in the comments, and I'm not doing that to sit on the fence.

First -- on the whole in America -- the church's idea of evangelism has gone some way that doesn't even resemble what we see in the Bible, or how we're instructed to live our lives as functioning members of the body of Christ.

On a quick tangent, the idea of every believer being a functional part of the body is long gone. Along those lines, I think Anonymous hit it right when he alluded to the fact that street-corner preaching is not going to be a valid way for every believer to call the lost to repentance.

But what seems to have happened is that we have convinced the "average" believer that he doesn't have to worry about boldly and lovingly speaking the Gospel; "preaching" repentance and salvation through Christ. Now, this kind of interaction is just not going to fit many people. But I can guarantee that it fits for a whole lot who don't have a clue that they should be doing it. The church is to blame for that because of the hugely prevalent "bring them to 'church' so they can hear the pastor preach and get saved" mentality in the institutional church.

Back to topic, I love doing good stuff for people. It made my day just to see people in the line smile. It made me glad to know that at least a handful of people were going to go through the day thinking, "Wow, that was cool," and as a result I'd imagine that some may have passed that "goodwill" along to someone else. I have no regrets for simply doing something nice. I'd do it again even though it meant waking up at 3AM. I'm thankful that Josh put it together.

To wrap up (because I'm so long-winded), without a doubt, on the whole we have replaced true evangelism with a system that is geared to "buy" non-believers into believing in Jesus -- an overkill version of what Leroy and Anon said. I believe we can plainly see this in the way our churches are structured, organized, and run. We are hoping that we can lure people to our places of worship.

The Gospel must be heard on the street, in the workplace, in the grocery store -- everywhere we are. The regular meeting of the Church is to be a meeting of believers, by definition of the word "church."

Leroy said, "Not every person that needs Christ can handle a blunt force trauma delivery of the truth. I'm not saying bait-n-switch, but instead know your 'audience'". I totally agree. However, I would argue that bait-and-switch is now the standard.

I'm actually not a big fan of street-corner preaching. I am a "fan" of getting to know people and being able to specifically speak to them about Christ, and develop a relationship that proves that I do, indeed, love them.

I think that everyone's going to disagree with me here on something. :-) I didn't proof this, so I may wind up having to correct or clarify.

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