Vol.IX No.III Pg.2
May 1972

That Gospel Blimp

Robert F. Turner

Have you read the little paper back called, The Gospel Blimp, by Joseph Bayley? (Zondervan Publ.) It is a satire on institutionalism as found in denominationalisrn, but it is not out of place among us.

Some brethren think something should be done about converting the beer-drinking, non-church-going neighbor; but no one considers getting personally acquainted, and making a direct, personal approach with the gospel of Christ. Instead, they form a company, raise thousands of dollars to buy a Gospel Blimp, hire some one to fly it; and the blimp trails JESUS SAVES banners, and drops gobs of literature on his house (and into his gutters). Before the story is finished the usual problems of institutionalism are met — including the inner politics, preservation of public image at the expense of personal integrity, tie-ins with commercial interests (to raise more money), and the withdrawal of those who are finally disgusted with the whole mess.

Finally one man visits his neighbor, earns his confidence, and leads him to Christ, despite the Blimp. The author interprets his book in a closing chapter, saying: and the blimp? Why the wonderful Gospel Blimp is every impersonal, external means by which we try to fulfill our responsibility to witness to our neighbors. Gospel programs over the radio, messages on billboards or in tracts: these are some of our blimps. They either supplement our own personal witness or else theyre substitutes for involvement with our neighbors...

Today we have perfected various technical means of presenting the Christian message. We are hitting a mass market with mass gospel media. But in the process, we have often passed our personal responsibility on to blimps and loud speakers and impersonal organizations. But technical organizational means have one enormous lack: a human heart. They may multiply a voice ten thousand times, but remain only a voice.

I am frequently asked to suggest a program for personal work — and I have devised some dandies. But none of them will work for you and me. If brethren want to convert their neighbors, they will find a way to and will often succeed; for the heart goes where no Gospel Blimp can go.

So — a friend read this little book, and thought it would be great to use in converting our liberal, brethren from their errors of institutionalism. We should buy thousands of these and --- Hmmmmm!!