When I was in junior high, my youth pastor put on an activity called a Scare-Mare. The Scare-Mare activity was only done every few years because it was so labor intensive for such a large community outreach. Several years before I was too young to attend, but it was finally my turn. A church member’s wooded property was turned into a maze of paths and scary vignettes with people chasing us through with the final destination a clearing complete with a casket and bonfire. Once the clearing was filled with young people a gospel presentation was made. Many made professions of faith. Seemingly all a very good thing.
Several years later, it was about time for the next Scare-Mare. However, there were no big promotions for it. It was not on the youth calendar. As did many others in the youth group, I went to the youth pastor to ask why he wasn’t going to do one that year. Maybe it was simply postponed an extra year. His reasonwas probably the first time (at least that I remember) someone explained to me their actions using Scripture. His “why” is something that I have never forgotten.
2 Timothy 1:7, For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
I honestly do not remember all that he said except that the Lord had shown him the above verse and he could no longer do the Scare-Mare’s because fear was not of God. That is really all he needed to say. Although I am sure I did not fully understand the importance of it then, as I have grown in the Lord and have now had many decades of ministry experience, I think I have grasp on it today.
We have to ask ourselves, “If God doesn’t give the spirit of fear, then who does?” Fear is one of Satan’s most powerful tools. My youth pastor understood that God did not want to scare anyone into Heaven. While we are not to judge someone’s salvation, I do believe that those who make professions out of fear may be more prone to doubts in the future.
1 John 4:18, There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
Fear “hath torment.” Torment gives the idea of physical or mental pain. Some might also read it to mean a form of punishment. Fear creates doubt. What a terrible thing doubting your salvation is! For years I questioned my salvation, in part because I had been saved at such a young age. Satan used that fear, those doubts, to prevent me from fully serving the Lord. Once I dealt with the doubts, the fear went away. Now I serve the Lord fully because I know Whose I am.
As a result of the lesson my youth pastor taught me, I tend to stay away from the seasonal outreaches that focus on the end times productions. This is my personal preference. It is something that I have studied out for myself and I am fully persuaded in my own mind that I will hold this belief.
Romans 14:5, One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
However, I know and accept that there are others who fully believe that these types of activities are terrific for outreach. May I make a few suggestions regarding issues that arise as a result of these productions?
- Invite unsaved friends. I know this sounds as if I am going against what I said previously, but if the event is an outreach, who are you reaching out to? To those who are presumably saved in the church or to those who have made no profession of faith? If the focus is outreach, then reach out.
- Follow the event guidelines. If the sponsors of the event have provided a specific age group that the presentation would not be appropriate for, follow the recommendations. Young children should not attend these types of events as they still have very vivid imaginations. Children are still learning how to discern fact from fiction, truth from a lie, pretend from reality.
- Have a plan of follow up for anyone who makes a profession of faith. If during the event, someone in your group makes a profession of faith please follow up with them in a discipleship program. This is not a “fire escape.” A profession of faith is the birthing of a new child of God. Just as you would not leave a newborn baby to flounder on its own, do not abandon a new babe in Christ to figure out the Christian walk for themselves.
- Have a plan to follow up with anyone who attended the event with your group. It is possible for these types of outreaches to stir up doubts in those who believe that they are saved. It is also possible that someone did not make a profession of faith at the event, however, they may have questions days, weeks or months later.
God has instilled within us His power to teach and preach His Word. We do not need to add an element of fear to make it “more real.” His Word alone is powerful. God has shown us His love through giving His only Son as our only means of salvation. It is through this gift of love to us that we can have a personal relationship with Him. However, if you do chose to participate in these types of outreaches, do so understanding the tremendous responsibility you have toward the new babes in Christ as well as to anyone who may begin experiencing doubts as a result of participating.