I have lived outside of the US for many years so I am not sure if you still find them. But back in the 1980s and 1990s one would see them a lot. A car would go by with a bumper sticker that said, “HONK IF YOU LOVE JESUS.”
I would never honk… honking the car horn is almost always considered offensive in the US. Why would anyone create such a bumper sticker? Why stop there?
THROW TRASH OUT OF YOUR WINDOW IF YOU LOVE JESUS
“KEY” SOMEONE’S CAR IF YOU LOVE JESUS
TEXT WHILE DRIVING IF YOU LOVE JESUS
DRIVE SLOW IN THE LEFT LANE IF YOU LOVE JESUS
DRIVE AROUND QUIET NEIGHBORHOODS WITH YOUR WINDOWS DOWN AND YOUR RADIO CRANKED UP IF YOU LOVE JESUS
There were stories about people honking their horns in support of the HONK IF YOU LOVE JESUS bumper sticker, only to have the owner of that bumper sticker “flip off” (give ‘the finger’ to) the honker. Are these stories true? I don’t know, but I saw lots of horrible, aggressive drivers with “Inspirational” messages on their back bumper. The sticker might quote a Bible verse. Or it might might have a pithy statement like “Let Go and Let God” (a statement that sounds kind of spiritual but is as likely to mislead as enlighten). Or perhaps it might say something like “Jesus Loves You” (actually, I will admit that I used to have a bumper sticker with the message “Jesus Loves You” spelled out in International Signal Flags… it’s a Navy thing). In some cases the “inspirational message” may be more insulting than inspirational… such as “In case of Rapture, this vehicle will be unoccupied.”
I find that bumper stickers typify a couple of problems in missions.
1. A focus on Input-Based Missions rather than Outcome-Based Missions. Input-based missions means the focus is placed on “spreading the good news” rather than transforming lives. Input-based missions is often justified by the idea that it is “just our job to share the truth and the Spirit’s job to convict the individual.” This may be true, but the argument only has merit if one assumes that every time and every way that we share the message of God is either positive or neutral. However, the message CAN be shared in a manner that drives a wedge between man and God. Outcome-Based Missions means that a methodology needs to be chosen that is effective in bringing about positive change. Can this become “the end justifies the means?” Absolutely, which is why one needs to balance it out with sharing what is true and good with what is effective. A poor choice of Christian bumper sticker is as likely to drive a wedge as shine a light.
2. Missions Without Integrity. Integrity Missions says that your message is more powerful if it is consistent with your life. Or one could say that your life is more powerful if it is consistent with your message. Bad drivers with a Cross or Ichthus proudly displayed can push people away from God, not towards Him.
To me, Missions needs to balance both input (truth) and outcome (effective spiritual transformation), and be done with wholistic integrity to be effective.