Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Top 10 Reasons to Host a Christian "Hell House"

    Hosting a Christian Hell House is all the rage right now with youth ministries across the country so I thought I'd share the top ten reasons you should consider hosting one yourself:

    1) It's the perfect way to scare people into joining your church and youth group!

    2) Can you think of a better vehicle this time of year for spreading Jesus' message of judgment and condemnation?

    3) By hosting your own scary event in your church you can show teens that. . .

    Ok. Who am I kidding? I can't come up with ten good reasons for hosting a Hell House. Heck, I can't even come up with three good reasons. More to the point, I could suggest a hundred reasons why this approach to evangelism is harmful not only to Christian youth but to the whole Christian cause of sharing the love of God through Jesus Christ. But don't take my word for it. See below just a smattering of comments from YouTube about the above trailer for a documentary depicting one church's year-round efforts to create their own "Hell House:"

    "These people are the epitome of all that is corrupt, dark and hopeless about the church and its bastardized beliefs"

    "Christianity is indeed all about fear."

    "Ah, the age old technique of terrifying people into submission. It's worked so well over the years and has resulted in so many people finding the kind of peace you can only get by brushing everything under the carpet."

    "ok let me just say im not an atheist, and i discriminate when it comes to personal beliefs. but dont they know that people shouldnt be scared into believing that there is a god? for them to "convert" they should go in willingly, because they feel its right and not out of pressure. this is just sad and disgraceful."

    Is this really the sort of reaction that we believe will open people's hearts to the Christian faith? To paraphrase one of the YouTube commenters, wouldn't it be better to host a "Happy House" where we portray Jesus' teachings about forgiveness, love, charity, peace, and justice? I realize those sorts of things aren't as sexy as screaming demons, bloody deaths, and violent shootings, but was Jesus' ultimate message about love or about a violent damnation that some think awaits the non-believer?

    And just as a final footnote -- I find it ironic/funny/sad that the cost of salvation is a cool $10 for those who want to attend the hell house of the church in the video clip above. All Jesus asked of Zacchaeus was a sandwich.


    Anonymous said...

    The most honest thing about this video was probably the guy at 1:02. Never been to a hell house, but I've been to a thing called "The 99" which is the same thing essentially.

    Nazarene Youth Pastor said...

    I actually showed this documentary to my youth group last week... then we had a great discussion on whether or not fear is an appropriate motivation tool for Christians.

    It was one of the better discussions I've had.

    Brian said...

    NYP, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I highly recommend the documentary. It is really interesting and well-produced and I'm certain would make a good conversation starter (much like the documentary "Jesus Camp.)

    Brian said...

    bethegospel - yes, that scene is one of the most interesting in the film as a few teens confront one of the leaders of the event and we get to hear a different perspective on the impact of hell houses.

    Christopher Wesley said...

    It saddens me to think that people believe fear is a great tactic for evangelism. I know with Halloween we feel like we need to compete with the world, but what happened to just offering truth? I know when my teens see stuff like this it causes so much confusion and they question whether or not they want to be associated with it. Good post.

    Brian said...

    Christopher, my teens have the same reaction when they see stuff like this? It's something along the lines of "These people are Christians?" It just is so far from our expression of the faith and what we focus on. Thanks for commenting.