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The Gospel Blimp (And Other Parables) 

by Joe Bayly
2013 / 155 pages

We all have people in our lives that we should share the Gospel with but we might be unsure about how to approach them. Do we drop crumbs while talking at the water cooler? Do we invite them over for dinner and let our actions speak for themselves? In the title parable of this short story collection, “Herm” has a better idea. Rallying his church behind him, Herm encourages them to forget all that awkward personal interaction and instead purchase a blimp to fly over their town. They customize the blimp with all the Christian bells and whistles such as a Scripture-verse banner, gospel tracts by the bushels to drop from the sky, and a PA system to blast the town with Sunday’s sermon. It’s a brilliant satiric take on how far Christians can go to avoid taking the obvious, but scary step, of talking to our neighbors about our God.

Included in this short book are many other funny, satirical, and surprisingly profound parables. One favorite was “Rehoboam’s Golden Shields” When Rehoboam left home for college he had golden shields, which made him stick out. He knew he should be proud of them but when the last one disappears he experienced a sense of relief. He was finally just like everyone else. The problem is he knows that when he goes home to visit his family, his missing golden shields would surely be noticed. Instead of finding his missing shields, Rehoboam simply replaced them with cheap look-a-likes. Another I really likes was ‘How Shall We Remember John?’ which follows a family who is grieving the loss of their son and brother. They began by remembering John every morning before breakfast but over time the decision was made to only remember him on Saturday. As time passed, no time was spent remembering John at all. 

These two parables raise some important questions. Do you find relief when you fit in with the world? Do you hide your lack of faith from those closest to you? How often do you remember and spend time with Jesus? Is it every day? Once a week? Even less?

I recommend any young adult or older read at least a few of these parables. One notable caution: a single use of the “N-word” in the short story “The Saving Message.”

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Family, Movie Reviews, Watch for free

The Gospel Blimp

Satire / Drama 38 min / 1967 Rating: 8/10 It may be 40 years old now, but this understated satire still ranks among the better Christian films ever made. It begins with a group of enthusiastic Christians having a barbeque in their backyard, and discussing how they can evangelize the unconverted next-door neighbor. They all know the conventional ways of doing it, but they’re looking for something… special. As they’re relaxing, sitting back in their lawn chairs, a blimp flies overhead, and that’s when it hits them – that’s what they need to do! Buy a blimp so they can fly it over the neighbor’s house, and over the entire town, and throw down gospel tracks. That’ll get people’s attention. What a brilliant plan! That they miss the obvious alternative is only part of the film's point, but it's this satiric take that makes this both cutting and memorable. Their plans just keep getting bigger and bigger! The Gospel Blimp is based on a book of the same title by Joseph Bayly that cuts even deeper (and there was also a comic book adaptation that did so a little less so). What allows this version to be just as engaging four decades later is its still relevant point – that we make evangelism harder than it needs to be – and the clever way it was first filmed. This is home movie-esque, and as a home movie we don't expect car chases or explosions, and we aren't put off by the grainy film. Like The Blair Witch Project famously did, the producers took what would otherwise have been a weakness – less than high definition camera work – and have turned it into a strength by making it a sign of authenticity: the home movie feel lets us know we're getting an intimate, up-close, look at this group's evangelistic efforts. This would be a great short film to share with any group of Christian friends and then talk about afterward – it offers lots of fodder for discussion. You can watch it for free below. ...