Now THAT’s a Good Question!

What do you think about churches doing Judgment Houses?
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This is a great question asked of me recently by an FBC member via email. Below is my response:
I have attended numerous ‘judgment houses’ (basically, a baptized haunted house for churches – you can find a bit more about them here) in my day. They were very popular when I was a teenager and youth pastor. I even took my youth group to ’em every Fall.
I think they can be good – but overall, I am very skeptical about them. Though I believe God can and does use just about any means to communicate the Gospel to people – I don’t care for the tactic the majority of these kinds of things use to ‘scare’ people into heaven.
That’s what generally happens. Students (of all ages) usually walk through a dramatized version of someone dying in a car wreck (or something similar) and that person ends up going to hell. Sometimes several people die – some go to hell and others to heaven. The heaven and hell scenes are usually very graphic, intense, and frightening.
Again – I am NOT saying God cannot use them (I believe He has and perhaps still does). But I don’t think these things are His primary means of communicating the Gospel to lost people. To be really honest, usually alot of time, money, effort, and energy go into something like this and a there ends up being (in my opinion) a bunch of false conversions (people who make a decision, never to be seen or heard from again) along with a few genuine ones. Again, in my opinion, if you are going to put that much time, money, effort, and energy into something – why not use some of the means already spelled out for us in the Bible????
I do feel like I need to add at this point something the Apostle Paul said about a somewhat similar deal in Philippians 1. In response to those who ‘proclaim Christ’ in a wrong or insincere way, Paul said, “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” (See Philippians 1:15-18). Paul was happy the Gospel was being made known – regardless of the tactic.
Do I like the tactics used in the majority of Judgment Houses? No. I don’t. However, I know that many my own motives and methods haven’t always been stellar either. At the end of the day, if Jesus is made known to more people, in THAT I need to rejoice.
That’s what I think.
What about you, blog people?
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7 thoughts on “Now THAT’s a Good Question!

  1. Rodney Wimberly says:

    Jesus is not just a get out of hell free card, He calls us to a new life. However Pastor, no matter how much those who present Him as no more than a get out of hell free card and that is what this is doing, I must end up agreeing with you. Whether I approve/agree or not is unimportant, as long as Jesus is being present as who He really is.

  2. Libby says:

    I don’t like the scare tactics either! I saw a video at a church when I was about 12 years old that scared me so badly that I had nightmares for more than a decade afterwards! I do not think that God wants us to come to Christ like that!!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I agree that scare tactics are not the best way for many people I know as I think as soon as the “scared feeling” left, they would return to their old ways. As you said, I’m not saying they cannot be used to have someone come forward and admit that they are a sinner and need Christ, but for most people I think the one-on-one would be even better. But that’s just my 2 cents.

  4. Considering that I am the co-director of one of these and have been a part of writing the script for it for the past 6 years… I have see the real salvations that come through the gospel being presented, but we also purposely present the gospel message in every scene. Even Satan and the demons share the gospel to the crowds in hell. Direct Scripture is used in every scene, we have the characters literally and naturally speak the Word of God throughout every scene… and we take careful considerations to make sure that those attending know that it was not any certain “sins” of the characters that sent them to hell, but their rejection of Christ, and that it was was the receiving of the gospel alone that allowed the others to enter heaven. We also follow up with all “salvations” and even connect them to a church in their area if they do not live in ours…

    Our production does not only reach out to our community, but for those who act in it, they hear the gospel message over and over and over and over… and for those who share the gospel in the scenes they become more and more and more and more comfortable with sharing this message as it is hidden in their own hearts as they rehearse and perform. Being a part of these has opened the door for a many one on one conversations that our members and those in our community that attend other churches might not have had an open door for otherwise.

    Personally I think this is less of a “scare tactic” than a preacher who stands in a pulpit red faced spitting fire and brimstone while he points to people in the congregation and pounds his fist on the podium…

    • And, I really do know how to spell my own name, LOL! (It’s Vaughn)

    • Nicole,
      I am thankful to read this and appreciate your response. In my post, I base almost everything on what I experienced years ago as a youth and later a youth pastor – looking back on it, I experienced some pretty shady stuff.
      If churches are intentional with the presentation AND the follow up of the Gospel (which every church needs to do regardless of what ‘ways’ they present the Gospel), I am thrilled!
      May God use it for His purposes and glory and may He bless you and your church for your intentions.
      As for pastors using ‘scare’ tactics in their preaching – I agree wholeheartedly. This occurs far too often, I fear, and we pastors need to WATCH IT!!!! As a pastor counseled me years ago, it is so important that we just ‘stick with the Bible!’

      Thanks for your response.
      Matt

  5. jayne says:

    never heard of this, doesn’t sound right or the Christian thing to do….sounds too much like those movies we had to watch when we took Drivers Ed.

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