One of the plumblines for our First Impressions Team is that the gospel is offensive, but nothing else should be (follow the link for a more detailed explanation). That means we intentionally enter into each weekend with one end goal: we will honor our guests by creating an inviting environment that engages worshippers and builds meaningful relationships.

That means we’ve implemented teams like parking and seating to help people find their way more easily. It means we’ve invested major budget dollars into things like gift bags for our first time guests. It means the language we use and the information we ask for and the traffic flow we create are all intended to funnel guests towards the gospel.

But in reality, any of those systems, structures, and strategies can become a gimmick if the gospel isn’t our driving force. A first time guest bag is just a monetary expenditure if we’re not using it as a connection point for building a relationship with someone new. A parking or seating team just serves to create catered-to people if we’re not using it as a lavish display of biblical hospitality. A coffee bar that doesn’t engage people in community is just another place to get a caffeine fix (while throwing elbows to get the creamer before a fellow Christian does). And an information card just becomes a spiritual mailing list if we’re not intentionally connecting people to their next step towards understanding the gospel.

Gimmicks aren’t inherently bad, but gimmicks don’t save people. The gospel saves people. Gimmicks – left to themselves – are ultimately a waste of time for our volunteers and our guests, and a waste of money for our churches.

But here’s the beautiful thing about gimmicks – they can be redeemed and used to funnel people towards the gospel. We engage people where they are (gimmick) but we help them take a step towards who God designed them to be (gospel).

What gimmicks are you using in your weekend ministry that needs to be redeemed? What gimmicks are already making inroads towards the gospel? Have you read the word “gimmick” one too many times in the last few minutes and realized it’s one of the strangest words ever? (Gimmick gimmick gimmick gimmick gimmick) I’d love to hear from you. Comment below.