Home Pastors Articles for Pastors Is it Time to Stop Quoting John 3:16 for Outreach?

Is it Time to Stop Quoting John 3:16 for Outreach?

John 3:16

I hate bumper stickers, even when I agree with them. How can anything important be reduced to so few words? Our media soaked, marketing driven age has generated a sound-bite generation. We have been trained to reduce life and death thoughts into catch phrases and slogans. It’s even true in the church, where for the last 60 years the most popular verse in the Bible has been John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It’s been the go-to verse for outreach because it speaks of God’s sacrificial love, our need for faith, and the promise of eternal life. I’m in favor of all those things–they are all true. Still, there is a danger in quoting John 3:16 apart from the gospel of the Kingdom of God. It reduces the good news to something Jesus never intended.

It’s time to stop quoting John 3:16 apart from the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

If Jesus commissioned us to announce the Kingdom and make disciples of the King, we should give people the full story. Anything less is dishonest. John 3:16 isn’t even the full story of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Why have we tried to shrink the Kingdom call into those 26 words?

Here are four drawbacks of shrinking the gospel into John 3:16:

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Ray Hollenbach, a Chicagoan, writes about faith and culture. He currently lives in central Kentucky, which is filled with faith and culture. His book "Deeper Change" (and others) is available at Amazon.com