Saturday, December 05, 2009

Bait and Switch Evangelism

Act 2 of the November 6th installment of "This American Life" is worth a listen. Don't be put off by the title; it's af exposé on disingenuous evangelistic strategies. What's most intriguing is the opportunity to hear a self-conscious non-Christian perspective on sham evangelism.


Shayne McAllister said...

Gotta love This American Life. They portray stories accurately, and it's a great show to get the heartbeat of American culture.

Anonymous said...

the debt collection story was pretty funny... especially the valentine.

Anonymous said...

henderson is right
all bait – no switch
is a pretty good slogan

greglong said...

It was very intesting and thought-provoking. I agree that many evangelistic techniques are disingenuous--the prime example being the one mentioned in the show of Christian girls in bikinis handing out flyers to guys inviting them to come to a party that included "drinks."

But aren't we to be "fishers of men"? And don't fishermen use bait?

Did Jesus use a "bait and switch" technique when he asked the woman at the well if she wanted living water?

Anonymous said...

Greg, to answer your question of bait, the answer is no.

The fisherman in Jesus' day like Peter and Andrew and the rest cast nets into the water. They weren't changing out bait when the fish weren't biting.

greglong said...

I understand that, James, although I believe many modern-day net fishermen do use some kind of bait, so I don't know if fishermen in Jesus' day did or not.

But what about Jesus' technique? Would it not be called bait and switch by some?

d4v34x said...

Greg, interesting question and one that prompted me to review that passage today. Jesus did several things there: 1)He engaged her in a way that broke down barriers to giving her the Gospel. 2)He used the subject at hand (thirst/drinking) as a point of departure to the Gospel. 3)He answered her somewhat tangential questions in a way that steered her toward the Gospel. 4)He sought to include her loved ones in the conversation, highlighting her need for the gospel. 5)He presented the Gospel.

No bait and switch there.

greglong said...

Obviously I have no problems with what Jesus did in John 4. I would just like someone to define exactly what "bait-and-switch" evangelism is.

One of the guys that was interviewed in the radio program seemed to swing to the opposite extreme--no confrontation or presentation of the gospel unless your friend asks about it.

Ben said...


No one here is advocating a "don't-ask-don't-tell" evangelism.

"Bait and switch" evangelism is deliberately masking what's being offered, and it's grounded on leading the object to believe what is offered is different from what will eventually, actually, be offered.

Jesus offered her something that was outside her world. It required definition. Frat guys on beaches know exactly what to expect when women in bikinis promise drinks. There's no parallel.

greglong said...

There's a great article on the 9 Marks blog on this very subject, one with which I wholeheartedly agree:

The Bait-and-Switch, the Sales Pitch, and the Motive of Love

Ben said...


I think what Greg Gilbert is writing about is apples and oranges to this post. There's no deceit in what Greg's advocating.