Decals, Detractors and Discipleship

“You are a pastor.  Why don’t you have Christian decals on your truck?”

carsonlandonbugle

I was taken aback by the question.  I had finished officiating at a funeral and committal service at a local cemetery and was getting ready to enter my truck for the ride home.  Earlier that morning, the young man who asked this of me had already identified himself as a born again Christian from Texas.  He was a nephew of the man whose funeral had just ended.   Before I could answer his question, he added:

“Are you ashamed of Jesus?  Those who are ashamed of Jesus will be shamed by the Lord when he comes again.”

So as we stood there in the parking area, I did my best to explain my choice of decals to him.  I have nothing against symbols and signs on cars or trucks that represent the Christian faith.  Many of my church members have such emblems on their vehicles. 

It has been my experience, however, that such decals do not result in any opportunity to share my faith with others.  Years ago when I had a Christian decal on my vehicle, not once did anyone ask me about it.  Not once.

When I acquired my truck, I put no decals on it for at least a year.  Then I decided to apply two simple white decals.  One says “Bowhunter” and the other is the symbol of the Minnesota Vikings.   These two images have generated lots of conversation over the years…and not just from zealous young men who scold me for not having a Christian symbol.

Time and time again someone will call out to me in the parking lot at the grocery store, the movie theatre, the sporting goods store and the gym.  “Hey, buddy, did you draw for anything this year?”  “Hey, what kind of bow do you shoot?” “Did you have any luck last year?”  “You think the Vikings will have a good season this year?”  “Skol Vikings!”  “Hey, Minnesota, Vikings rule!”

Mind you, I do not start these conversations.  People see my decals and they start talking to me.  And as we engage in conversation about hunting with a bow or the Vikings football team, sooner or later the person talking with me says, “So what do you do for a living?”

flcoutside

It is at that moment that I have an opportunity not only to tell them about the awesome congregation I serve as senior pastor, but my faith as a follower of Jesus Christ.  More than a few times people have responded by asking me to pray for them or telling me about a recent loss or painful experience. 

On many occasions, folks will tell me they used to go to church, but the pastor/board/organist/youth director/secretary/teacher where they used to worship did/said/inferred/suggested something that angered/disappointed/alienated/ them…so they stopped participating in the life of the congregation.  This, too, becomes an opportunity for conversation.  I tell them that I have not always had a positive experience with my doctor/dentist/grocer/mechanic/plumber but I didn’t quit getting my annual physical exam/teeth cleaning/food/engine tune-ups/repairs.  I invite them to worship at Faith and give them one of my cards that I keep in my truck.  If they aren’t ready for worship, I let them know that I am up for a cup of coffee if they would like to get together and talk some more. 

Do I always see these people in worship or wind up having that cup of coffee?  Of course not…but some have responded favorably.  Through the years, a few people have wound up joining our congregation and participating in our many ministries and missions. 

Do you suppose this would have happened if I did not have the hunting or football decals on my truck?

I am not ashamed of Jesus…and I pray that He will not be ashamed of my life and witness when He returns in glory.  Yet after thirty years of ministry, I have learned that we Christians should not be afraid to rethink the way in which we reach out to others with the Good News.  I’m not trying to build a theology of evangelism around car decals, I assure you.  Perhaps someone has asked you to share your faith with them in a parking lot because you have an ixthus symbol or cross on your rear window.  That’s great.  It just never worked that way for me.

ixthus

As a disciple of Christ, I am in the world but not of it.  Yet while I am in the world, I will hunt and I will hope that the Vikings make it to the Super Bowl again before I am laid to rest.   That said, I will keep shooting my bow even when I am not drawn for a big game hunt here in New Mexico…there’s always next year.  I will keep cheering for the Vikings, even when they finish far from the playoffs.  And I will do my best to share my faith with people I’ve never met before who call out to me because they like my decals.

God gives us countless ways in which to demonstrate our faith each and every day.  Taking the time to talk with someone who notices the decals on my truck is just one of them. 

By the way, I’ve had a few anti-hunters shout at me in the parking lot too.  ”Bambi killer!”  Once in a while, someone will yell “Go Packers!” as I get out of my truck.  Even then, there is a opportunity to talk with these people…and that’s a story for another day.

nazarene

I must tell you, however, that I am looking for a third decal to put on my truck.  It’s a Christian symbol….but of an altogether different kind.  Read more to learn about it:

http://www.religionnews.com/2014/07/25/twitter-iraq-christian-wearen/

 

 

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One thought on “Decals, Detractors and Discipleship

  1. We saw a report two days ago about “Nazarene” being written on the homes of Christians and it was chilling. I enjoyed reading this very well written blog about decals, conversations with people about them, etc. So true.

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