Start Reaching Out by Selling Out: How D.L. Moody Inspired Us to Give Away Hundreds of Free Star Wars Tickets at Life Church
Two years ago we had a blast at Life Church Michigan giving away hundreds of free movie tickets to a private premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Our efforts landed us in Time Magazine, USA Today, and The Washington Times.
We had so much fun and saw so many new people give their lives to Christ that we’re doing it again for Star Wars: The Last Jedi! And we have a deeply theological reason for this unique outreach initiative.
People far from God matter to God.
Jesus said that the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
People far from God ought to matter to us. The church is not a country club; it’s a rescue mission!
Our mission is to unapologetically Reach the Lost at Any Cost… just like D.L. Moody.
In the 1850’s, traveling shoe salesman D.L. Moody began renting pews (a common practice back then) in his local Chicago church. On Sunday mornings, he filled four pews with street orphans. When the religious establishment complained, Moody was told to take his smelly orphans elsewhere.
Twenty-two year-old Moody pooled resources with two other friends and began a Sunday evening Bible school for children. In 1858 it quickly grew to 300 children. How did Moody attract the children?
He bribed them.
D.L. Moody offered three free incentives to street children who would come to his Sunday night Bible gatherings: free candy, free pony rides, and one penny per kid.
Seriously, the great evangelist D.L. Moody, who is revered for preaching the gospel to over 100 million people before the invention of radio, was willing to do whatever it takes to reach people far from God!
Did Moody receive push-back from the religious establishment? You bet! They threw stones and called Moody every name in the book.
D.L. Moody’s response was awesome: “I prefer the way I do evangelism to the way you don’t.”
Moody modeled to the Church reaching out by selling out! At his Sunday evening Bible class, street orphans would receive their welcome gift and then engage in what Moody called “planned rowdy time” to get their energy out. Then the children would sing a hymn and receive Bible teaching. And it worked: hundreds of children gave their lives to Christ!
We use this exact same strategy at Life Church: all our kids’ areas strategically feature giant indoor inflatables to help get nervous energy out, followed by high-energy worship and dancing, and finally age-appropriate teaching from God’s Word.
Do we receive critical words from other Christians? Yup. All the time. And we honestly don’t care. Because they have no authority over us, only the Lord does. As long as we obey what God is telling us to do, we can leave all the results to Him!
Within two years, history records that Moody’s outreach to orphans grew to one thousand. Moody’s ministry was no longer being mocked as the fruit of his efforts was abundantly clear to his fiercest critics. President Abraham Lincoln even visited in 1860 — lives were being changed by the gospel and Moody’s attractional ministry was vindicated!
I’m passionate about reaching the lost at any cost.
We are willing to do the things nobody else is doing to reach the people nobody else is reaching. I can’t wait to see how God moves beginning this weekend as we head toward that galaxy far, far away!