As soon as I thought I had heard it all – here’s a new one.

The Next Level Church near Charlotte, NC, is trying a new approach to reaching people. Church members are canvassing local bars and handing out shot glass invitations to church. The shot glasses read “give us a shot” and the church slogan “real church for real people”. The pastor of the Next Level commented that their goal was not to “impress people who already go to church…[but] to impress people who don’t.”

Now I’m all in favor of… having relationships with the lost. In fact Jesus did this. In Luke 15 the Pharisees and scribes “began to grumble” about the fact that Jesus “receives sinners and eats with them.” However, it’s one thing to have an intentionally, redemptive friendship with an unbeliever, but it’s quite another to use the world’s vices as a bridge to reaching the world. If that’s how we reach the lost, then where do we draw the line? Should we hand out packs of cigarettes to smokers that read “Church isn’t a ‘drag’, it’s ‘Kool’.” Or how about giving cocaine pipes to drug addicts that remind them to “Come to church. We’ll leave the door ‘cracked’.”

Now some may see this method as an ‘innovative’ or ‘cutting-edge’ outreach tactic, but can we really anticipate winning the world by identifying with the world. Paul says that we are to live in stark contrast to the world. Philippians 2:15 tells us that we are to live “above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.” Remember, “in” it, not “of” it.

The story is told of a boy who had a cage full of sparrows, and he thought it would be nice to teach the sparrows to sing like canaries. So he bought a canary and put it in the cage with the sparrows. After a couple of weeks, he came running to his mother and said, “Mother! The sparrows are not singing like the canary. The canary is now chirping like the sparrows!” That’s sadly a good picture of what can happen.

Ray Stedman wrote:

How do we reach the world and still not be like it? The answer is, we must learn to live on a frontier between these two extremes. We must learn to be in the world, but not of it. We must be in the world, we must seek out worldly friends and deliberately cultivate their friendship. We must invite them into our homes, and go into theirs. We will have to ignore some things that are irritating to us, their habits, their ways of thinking and talking. But we must make friends with them. We dare not shut ourselves away from the perils and dangers and dilemmas of the world around us. Our Lord forbids us to! We must be in the world, seek worldly friends, but we must not be like the world.

For the complete story, from Foxnews: NC Church Hands our Shot Glasses at Bars