Lock In Contracts
Captain Mark Schatz (Corps Officer in
Bunbury, Western Australia)
I have always been a guy
that is a little out of shape. Unless you call round a shape.
For years I have contemplated joining a gym but I
haven’t. The main
thing that has stopped me is that I have heard story after
story of people who get locked into contracts that just cannot
get out of. Stories of people paying mass amounts of money
each and every month and not getting any benefit from the gym
Just this week in my local
newspaper there was a story about how a lady was trying to
terminate her membership for over 2 years.
It stated that she had many encounters with the gym, a
number of them in person, and how it took so many attempts to
terminate the contract. She was quoted in saying
“I thought it was going
to be good to get into shape, but all this has done is cost me
money and a whole lot of anguish.
I’ll never join a gym again”.
This is a real fear and
pain that many people have.
However, there are some that see the benefit of regular
gym attendance and they turned into regular ‘gym junkies’ and
got into shape.
When it comes to Jesus and
the local church, many people have this same kind of fear and
hurt. They fear
that the church will take their money, their time, try to
change them and make them live boring simple lives. They fear
that when they join the church, they will be stuck with a lock
in contract that will just cause them anguish! Others have
found it to be a bad experience and have vowed to never go
We know this does not need
to be true! John records Jesus saying
“The thief [the enemy]
comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that
they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the
full, till it overflows].” (John 10:10, Amplified Version)
That’s right, the good news is Jesus come that we may have and
For us as Christ followers
within the church, we get this.
We see the benefit of gathering together as a family of
believers worshipping the God of the universe! We see that He
is all powerful and mighty and have chosen to give our lives
to God and serve the church. We
have seen the healing that God can provide and the benefits of
regularly attending church. But, how many of us share what we
have and what we know with those that don’t know Jesus.
The sad truth is that many of us don’t like sharing our
faith or don’t know how to.
We stay silent when we need to speak out!
Friends, The Salvation
Army more than ever need’s a shake up!
The Salvation Army needs a method, a plan to go into
all the world and share the gospel.
If we don’t, we will die a slow, slow death.
In recent years in Australia, we have heard of another
corps closing, and another and another, and I’m afraid that if
we don’t do something, there will be nothing left!
So, with the fear and pain
of many in mind, I want to suggest an idea that sees our
churches grow and effectively plunder hell to populate heaven!
It’s called the 4-week
Firstly, don’t invite
people to believe in Jesus. Well not yet. Invite people to
join the church community for four weeks.
Challenge them to come along each Sunday and spend one
and a half hours, (two if you have a preacher that goes on for
a while) each week for four weeks.
Tell them to eat the food, drink the coffee, and to not
put any money in the offering.
Tell them just to come and join you. Tell them the only
cost to them will be some time!
Once you have presented
the challenge to them, finish off by telling them that after
four weeks, if they don’t believe church is for them, if they
don’t believe that there isn’t any benefit from coming and
joining the fellowship, then they are free to leave no
It’s risky and bold! It
gives permission to people to leave without explanation and
puts the whole church under a microscope.
Nevertheless, I am
convinced that if someone takes the challenge, they are
spiritually open to Jesus and primed to receive the message of
In my former church
appointment, I encountered a guy that was having marital
explained right from the start that he “wanted nothing to do
with that Christian stuff”. After spending some time talking
to him, I offered him the challenge to come for 4 weeks! No
lock in contracts!
What happened in those 4
weeks was that he developed friendships and realised we were
not a bunch of crazy people.
He saw a real authentic belief in God.
After the four weeks, he kept coming and after 3 months
of regularly attending the church, he gave his life to Christ.
Just recently, he has become a senior soldier and is starting
a journey towards ministry.
Others have taken the
challenge and asked to keep attending after the four weeks are
up. Still others
have found a sense of community and friendship months before
they found God.
Some have left, but 80% of people stayed. Whatever way you
look at it, you don’t have to be theologically smart, you
don’t have to even have all the answers, you just have to
invite them to the challenge and allow God to speak to them
over the four weeks!
Friends, we can no longer
sit on the sidelines and expect that someone else will tell
them about Jesus. Now is the time to show people that what we
have is real; That God is real, that we are not a bunch of
weirdos, but mostly so we can fulfil the great commission.
But here’s the best part!
You only need to remember two simple steps.
First, we need to issue
the challenge to those that don’t know Jesus.
If you don’t have friends or family that don’t know
Jesus, go find some! Join some kind of group where you talk
and interact with people who don’t know Him yet.
Secondly, pray for them.
Pray that they will take the challenge, pray that God
will speak when they are in the middle of the challenge and
pray they will stay after the challenge.
The time is now. A hurting
and sceptic world is reaching out, looking for healing, hope
and life. If every Christian issues a challenge to someone, we
can not only remove the fear they have about being locked into
the church, we can double the size of the kingdom in less than
So, the question is, whose
brave enough to put it all on the line and invite someone to
take up the four-week challenge?