Tuesday, September 8, 2009


This past weekend we went to the fair. There’s always a salt of the earth kind of quality to state fairs. They draw a colorful crowd to say the very least. My favorite part is the food (actually that’s the only reason I agree to go): fried twinkies, hot scones, grilled corn on the cob, kettle corn, elephant ears, giant turkey legs, and the latest creation, chocolate covered bacon. I didn’t make that last one up.

We walked around taking in the sights, deciding which neon carnival ride would make us feel brave and daring but the least ill, and avoiding a few seedy characters I’m pretty sure I saw on America’s Most Wanted. Does anyone else wonder how safe rides operated by toothless meth users are? We toured the livestock barns, got to pet some piglets, and decided that of all the barns, the swine barn smelled the absolute worst.

Toward the end of the night, we happened upon a little trailer called the “Godmobile.” In big read letters, it read “Are you going to Heaven? Free two question test reveals the answer!” I immediately felt irritated with the Godmobile. Before I begin the rant, let me say that I’m sure that the intentions of the Godmobile creators and its staff were good. They want people to know God. I also want people to know God.

But, I have to question the basic methodology. The Godmobile isn’t coming at evangelism from a place of love or grace or relationship. It begins with a gimmicky scare tactic and a not so subtle threat of eternal condemnation. What on earth is attractive about that? I watched people walking by pointing, laughing, and shaking their heads. I could almost read their thoughts. “Another nut job Christian.” I wanted to chase after them and shout, “Not all of us are like that! Not all Christians want to judge you and condemn you! Come to my house for coffee! Let’s have a beer!” I continued to watch the Godmobile for the next 10 minutes and no one, I mean no one, got in line to take the free test.

I really believe that HOW we represent Christ matters. I’m sure the Godmobile staff entered into a few good conversations with people at the fair. But, I wonder how many more people were turned off to the idea of following Christ. How much damage was done?

Many of you who read this blog know that I’m a Christian, a pastor’s wife even. I follow Christ, not out of fear, obligation, or intimidation. I follow him because I have been profoundly changed by the grace and love I have found in my relationship with him.

So, I’m curious to know your thoughts on the Godmobile…….



  1. I agree completely. Those kind of things always make me uncomfortable, and then add an extra kick of frustration when I realize that I ostensibly AGREE with these people and am turned off -- how much more turned off are people who don't know Jesus?

  2. I totally agree, Jodie. It drives me a little nuts. We did a study last year "They Like Jesus but Not the Church." If we took the message that Jesus gave us...love God and love your neighbor...out into the world rather than the message of eternal damnation, we would have a lot more credibility. OK...soapbox off.

  3. It's a pretty complex issue. God is both just and merciful and I think that it is all too easy for us to fixate on one of those attributes in evangelism because it's difficult to hold both in our heads at the same time.

    The "you're goin' to hell!" crowd may be guilty of misrepresenting God's character, but my suspicion is that this vocal group is the overwhelming minority and that most of us misrepresent Him in the opposite way. It is unpopular and uncomfortable to talk about God punishing anyone for anything, but love and forgiveness are safe topics of discussion, universally embraced by our culture and all other major religions. And so we sort of pretend that first part of God's nature doesn't exist, not in our beliefs but in our words and actions.

    That said, I'd never set up anything like the Godmobile, because in my opinion it probably turns away more people than it attracts. But I can hardly look down on the people who are running it, because I'm pretty sure I am just as guilty of misrepresenting God to people who don't yet know Him.

  4. Good post Jodie. I have mixed feelings about the Godmobile. Not because I think the people responsible for the Godmobile idea are wrong, but because it hurts me to see people presenting Jesus as nothing but "fire insurance" and while I am continually thankful that Jesus has provided the saving grace I've come to know in my life, I'm more aware that through His life and death, we are also allowed a personal relationship with the God of the Universe. Somehow telling people about hell isn't the easiest way for me to start talking about Jesus who heals our hurts, fills us with joy and provides us with wisdom. With that said, we are in a society of people who want answers fast. Maybe it meets a need for those who just want a quick answer and then be on their way? I also used to do home visits to folks who had attended my church for the first time. In those meetings, we'd discuss the "Romans Road" which was just a few questions (probably similar to the Godmobile), but easily led deeper conversations about Christ. I suppose the difference there is that the people we visited weren't carrying around their newly purchased microfiber mops in one hand and a funnel cake in the other. They had, in fact, asked us to visit them.

  5. I have never seen anything like that. I do see the occasional guy on the corner with the turn or burn sign. I personally don't like that method. It seems to be a turn off to most.
    This is something that I have learned over the years. God can use anything to draw people to Him. A Beatle's song, a civil discussion, a turn or burn sign can all be used by God. We are all flawed and messy and a turn off at times but somehow God uses us.


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