What’s Wrong with Kevin Dedmon’s Treasure Hunt Evangelism?

dedmon

It looks like I struck a controversial nerve with some folks…not that it bothers me. Last year I wrote two articles describing the “Treasure Hunt” style of evangelism made popular by Kevin Dedmon’s book, The Ultimate Treasure Hunt. It started with my own testimony in an article titled “Treasure Hunt Evangelism — God’s Healing Power in Public.

On one hand, I’ve had great feedback–in fact, one young lady recently commented on my second article who was actually FOUND by Christian “treasure hunters.” In her comment, she testifies about how she had just been saved on Christmas Eve but didn’t have a church–that is, until God reached her on the way to a bar with friends. You can read her story in the comments of my article: Kevin Dedmon’s Treasure Hunt Evangelism.

On the other hand, I’ve had some concerned commenters wondering if God is really in this stuff. One anonymous writer warned, “Do you know Dedmon’s techniques are really Psychic Questing? Buddhists and Occultists have done this for thousands of years. And now the church has embraced them. Check it out yourself. Don’t be so open minded that your brain falls out.” And today, another gentleman wrote, “I am very worried about this. It sounds like ‘cold-reading’ to me. I honestly don’t see any warrant for it in the New Testament as what appear to be ‘words of knowledge’ in the way you describe them were certainly not ‘treasure-hunt’ style shots in the dark. I really have a problem with what you’re describing here.”

Personally, I’ve seen the results first-hand. I’ve seen Jesus Christ revealed and glorified. I’ve seen the people amazed by God’s love and His attention to the details of their lives. I’m not bothered by the nay-sayers.

But I do care very deeply about reaching the lost with every tool available to us! And I also want to be sure that we don’t scare people away from what I have seen to be a very valid and valuable tool in evangelism.

With this mindset, here is part of the answer I gave to the first anonymous writer:

The gifts of the spirit are not about being open-minded. I care very much about sound doctrine and what is true.

Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruit.” So what is the “fruit” of Dedmon’s ministry? People are healed, set free from evil spirits, and forgiven as they give themselves to Christ.

The technique is simply this: There are billions of people on this planet who need to know about Jesus; but clearly, He knows better than any of us whose heart is ready to receive at this exact moment. So we ask Him: “Lord, please lead us to someone who you specifically want to target today.” And then He does.

I have a hard time believing it’s the work of demons, guiding us to people to pray for them and lead them to Christ. As Jesus said, “A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.”

…I’m curious if you have read Dedmon’s book? I wonder which of us is jumping to conclusions?

Just a thought.

And to the second writer, I responded:

I completely understand your concern. Do notice, though, that the Apostle Paul led an entire missionary journey to Macedonia simply because he had a dream in which he saw a Macedonian man. Likewise, Ananias visited Paul to heal his blindness and facilitate his conversion–and it was all because he had a vision of where to go and what to expect. As it turns out, there actually are some New Testament precedents–they just have a different name and look a little different because Treasure Hunts are structured rather than random.

If you’re going to base things purely on New Testament precedent, consider this: The New Testament doesn’t say anything about handing out literature or Gospel tracts…that sounds a lot like what the Hare Krishnas and Jehovah’s Witnesses have been doing for years. Should we abandon these practices because of how similar they are to cults and false religions?

The devil doesn’t come up with anything new–he only perverts what God has created. The gifts of the Spirit are not New Age powers. Rather, New Age powers are cheap counterfeits of the supernatural abilities that God designed for the Church to use in reaching the lost and transforming culture.

I find it interesting that so many people have problems with the Treasure Hunt method given the statistical results of people being saved, healed, and set free on a regular basis in the name of Jesus. It doesn’t bother me–I just find it interesting.

I’m open for discussion on this, so feel free to raise more questions.

I’m curious if there are others among my readership who have either practiced “Treasure Hunt Evangelism” or been found by it. I’d love to hear your stories! And there are probably others who still have problems with this method. If that’s you, I’d be happy to discuss things further!

If you fit either of these categories, it would be great to read your thoughts. Feel free to comment on this post.

God bless!
–Art

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

27 Responses to “What’s Wrong with Kevin Dedmon’s Treasure Hunt Evangelism?”

  1. DebraJune 9, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    I belong to a Treasure Hunting group. We go every Tuesday night wherever Holy Spirit leads us. During the winter months it was mostly in the local mall or walmart. Every week we have supernatural encounters. We are using God’s gift of prophecy and words of knowledge. I personally have led several to the Lord, I personally have seen people get healed on the spot, I personally have seen people get hope when there was none left. Jesus said we have not because we ask not. so we ask Him for the clues to find the Treasure.

  2. cbzJune 9, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    A number of points:

    The big difference between Paul’s encounter in Macedonia and Treasure Hunts is that the former was unsolicited. In fact Paul was attempting to do exactly the opposite – going to Bythnia – when the God spoke to him through this dream.

    Your appeal to consider this is also heavily based on pragmatism – ‘it works’ – however it is also true that what you win people with, you win them to. Many people are happy with the Jesus of the prosperity gospel who is able to to provide them with all the earthly blessings they want, but this is not the Jesus of the bible, so the mere fact that people come to believe in ‘Jesus’ has to be examined a little. As Jesus himself says ‘Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’, so even these gifts cannot be used as a verification of true belief.

    So what are the dangers? They seem to me to consist of the following; we were made in the image of God, and whilst we are fallen in every part of our being, the work of Jesus is to redeem every bit of us. To that extent, most of the time God expects us to use our ‘normal’ God given faculties to make decisions, he doesn’t ‘overwhelm’ us with constant guidance, he transforms us through the renewal of our mind. This leans towards Gnosticism, in that it clearly considers this form of evangelisation to be ‘better’ or ‘higher’ than anything pre-planned. Similarly, a theology that says that God always directly speaks to us in this way, doesn’t do justice to the rich range of situations through which those who love God can go through – and will not prepare people for the times when God feels far away.

    You give the example of Paul – but that was one example in the many years of Paul’s ministry that Acts covers, where he moves from city to city according to plan, with occasional guidance from the Spirit. One would do well to ask what place discernment plays in this theology. Similarly, where did the injunction that prophets should be judged on the truth of their prophecies go?

    Finally, you talk about fruit, but when I see something like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSNojCrel-I

    I see someone more caught up by the signs than the Saviour to whom they point to.

    I don’t think you are likely to agree – but I think it’s worth pointing out that there are Christians who believe in Jesus who would disagree vehemently with this particular line of thinking

    • Jane Z.January 12, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

      Just because you may not agree with this type of evangelism, doesn’t mean it is wrong for others. It does take alot of boldness to go out and reach the lost but that is exaclty what Jesus said to do, “the fields are white and ready for havest,” and we are the harvesters. On the other hand, the body is made of many parts and some are the mouth, and some are the toes, but they are all important to the body. So, even though you do not like this type of evangelism, it is alright.

    • EdMay 26, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

      Might be beneficial to many if you explain how you go out and minister to people. How do you evangelize ? What methods do you you use ?

  3. mjmJune 9, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    I have had the privilege of hearing Kevin Dedmon speak as well as having read his book. He is a humble servant of Christ who deeply loves the lost and is willing to take risks to reach them that clearly demonstrate his passion for them to come to a saving relationship with Jesus.

    I believe that Jesus Himself used words of knowledge with the woman at the well to demonstrate God’s very personal love and concern for her, a lost treasure just waiting to be found. Her enthusiastic response to this very personal reaching out caused her whole village to “come and see.”

    I love your website and the opportunity to share with other believers like this. Thank you!

  4. mjmJune 9, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    I recently heard a young missionary couple share some Treasure Hunt experiences from their ministry in one of the Muslim countries in the Middle East, where to be sure, cold-calling evangelism can be very dangerous. God had shown a dream to a young Muslim man there in which the following happened~ in his dream, his clothes were very dirty, and he washed and washed them, but no matter how hard he scrubbed, they remained soiled and stained. Then, in his dream, someone handed him a bucket of blood and he poured it on his clothes, and they became sparkling white. This dream was very troubling to him, as it made no sense to his unbelieving mind and he could not understand the meaning of it.

    The next day, someone from the missionary team received some Treasure Hunt clues from the Holy Spirit that he would be seeing a young man in a coffee shop later that day, reading a newspaper and wearing a blue-colored shirt. It was the young man who had the dream! The missionary was able to talk with him and explain to him about the cleansing power of the blood of Yeshua, and the young man opened his heart and received Jesus as his Savior.

  5. Mark WiggingtonJune 9, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    We’ve been doing them for almost two years and they are awesome, we see lots of fruit, it has had a great effect on the boldness in our members, and really opened many peoples hearts to see how big and awesome our God is. The only warning I give is that groups not get so dependant on getting the clues, but know that God is always with them, and it is always his pleasure to give us the kingdom.. so we don’t have to be on an outreach or have a list of clues, in order for God to move.. but it is super cool to see it!! Thanks for the article, ALWAYS A HUGE BLESSING! !

  6. Dawn StoreyJune 10, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

    Amen, I love the” Treasure Hunt ” method of revealing Jesus to others. The few times I have used this style with friend and family we were amazed at the clues God gave us. Once He told our group to look for someone in suspenders with a yellow cap and there He was in a thrift store God told us to go in.

    Another woman’s knee was healed when my son and friend found her in a “multi-colored striped sweater,” that the Lord has highlighted.

    We had tatoos and red hair on someone and there she was behind the counter at McDonalds. As I ordered coffee, she said she would bring me a cup as soon as it stopped brewing and would bring it to me. We all sat down and when she brought it over we asked if we could pray for her, she sat down and unloaded many of her burdens with us and then we prayed and encouraged her in the Lord. A bystander at another table asked if we would pray for her. Very cool…

    This is a very effective and powerful way to share Jesus with the lost and hopeless.

  7. Linda MontgomeryJune 10, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    Thank you for your excellent answers and don’t be discouraged by the naysayers. Religious people will always try to stop new ideas of how the Lord can reach THIS generation, not theirs. Praise God for the tool even if it seems new agey. It did the work. As long as we don’t promote demonic practices, we can find ways to reach the lost through today’s worldly techniques. Whatever bait it takes, Jesus can use us to fish.

    Blessings,
    Linda Montgomery
    Passion for Purpose Ministries

  8. mjmJune 10, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    It occurs to me that things have not changed a lot in the 2000 years since Jesus walked this earth. His fiercest critics and opponents were people from within the religious establishment. Rather than rejoicing that people were being healed and set free by Jesus, the “religious” people took offense at how it was being done—“You shouldn’t be healing on the Sabbath”, “You drive out demons with the help of Beelzebub”, “Your disciples aren’t following the rules”.

    This seems very similar to the protests people are putting up today. Jesus said He came to “seek and to save that which was lost.” I would love to see the church today rejoicing over each sinner who comes to repentance, regardless of the method the Holy Spirit uses to woo and draw them.

    • Chris E.June 15, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

      mjm – Be careful where you point that. Criticism in and of itself doesn’t prove a position correct. Paul’s criticism of the Judaizers didn’t make them right.

  9. ArtJune 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm #

    Great comments, everyone! I love hearing the testimonies of God moving through believers who are sensitive to His voice.

    And “cbz,” you raised some great points that I’d like to address. I’ll accept your observation of the difference between Paul’s trip to Macedonia and the treasure hunts–I made this distinction myself in the article by saying that the two look different because Treasure Hunts are structured rather than random. We could debate whether that means the example should be used or thrown out, but for the sake of argument, I’ll let it go.

    As for which “Jesus” is being presented through this style of evangelism, I’m afraid there is not a good answer for that. I’m sure the answer is as varied as asking which “Jesus” is presented through any style of evangelism. Everybody is different, and the message of evangelism can be equally as varying regardless of the method. The same tool can be used by someone who knows the truth and someone who believes falsely.

    What I can do, however, is explain to you the “Jesus” that I present and allow you to judge for yourself whether or not it is the true Jesus.

    I serve, love, and preach a Jesus who loves passionately–a Jesus who lived His life on earth as an example for us. I preach a Jesus who not only healed the sick, raised the dead, cleansed lepers, and cast out demons 2,000 years ago, but a Jesus who does the same things today through Christians who believe His promises. I preach a Jesus who demands our complete devotion–a Jesus who wants us to be holy, righteous, pure, and free from sin. And I preach a Jesus who made all this possible through His work on the cross.

    I teach people that Jesus died so that our old lives could also be rendered dead. I teach people that Jesus didn’t just stay dead, but that He rose to life–conquering death so that we too could be raised to new life as “new creations.” And I teach that He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father–and He invites us to come sit with Him in that place of authority, power, and intimacy with the Father.

    What Jesus do you preach? If our answers are the same, then I don’t see why you’re challenging my methods. If our answers are different, then I wonder which Jesus you serve. I feel pretty confident about mine–especially since He looks just like He did in the Bible, plus eternal exaltation and glorification. Anything less than that is less than the Jesus of Scripture.

    You said that what I win people with, I win them too. To this I agree wholeheartedly. From my perspective, I’m afraid far too many people have been won with powerless Christianity–a Christianity that either denies the supernatural, relegates it to centuries past, or considers it rare and unattainable. This is the Christianity that so many have been “won to.” But it is not the Christianity of Jesus. It is not the Christianity of the early church. I would much rather win them with the power of the Holy Spirit (which is the purpose of that power, by the way) and thereby introduce them to a power-packed Gospel from the very beginning.

    While spiritual gifts “cannot be used as a verification of true belief,” I would argue that true belief should still result in supernatural power. In Mark 16:17, Jesus said, “These signs will accompany those who believe…” If these signs don’t accompany you, then there must be something up with your belief. Signs and wonders do not validate one’s belief; but a lack of signs and wonders causes me to question whether a person knows the right Jesus.

    Jesus–while teaching was His focus–had an incredibly miracle-based ministry. He said, “Do not believe Me unless I do the works of My Father” (John 10:37). I wonder, by the way, what would happen if more people in the Church made this same assertion: “Do not believe us unless we do the works of our Father.”

    When John the Baptist was in prison and wanted to be sure that Jesus was the Messiah, he sent some disciples to ask Jesus about it. Jesus didn’t reply with teaching. Rather, He replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor” (Matthew 11:4-5).

    In other words, Jesus validated His own ministry based on miraculous signs. We tend to validate our ministries based on our credentials, our schooling, our mentors, our experience, our intellect, and the size of our churches. Jesus did none of these things. Yes, false christs and false apostles will come and work false miracles, but this does not mean that true believers will not work true miracles.

    In your statement about gnosticism, you imply that treasure hunts and pre-planned events are somehow polar opposites. That’s just not true. What can be stated for certain is that anything Spirit-led is definitely better than anything conceived in the mind of man. I regularly plan things in partnership with the Holy Spirit–often planning as early as a year in advance. There’s nothing wrong with planning when God is part of the process. In fact, I often spend a considerable amount of time planning for Treasure Hunts (preparing testimonies, prayer music, worksheets, and the meeting place, while also organizing drivers). I think we spend too much time forming our own ideas and asking God to bless them and too little time asking God what He wants us to do.

    You also talked about the methods by which God speaks and how the Treasure Hunt style limits this in a believer’s life. Are you suggesting that those who go on “treasure hunts” never suffer? Are you suggesting that we have never encountered what the early church fathers called “the dark night of the soul”? It seems as though you’re implying that those who practice “treasure hunts” never practice any other form of communion with God. It seems as though you’re observing the practice of “treasure hunts” in a vacuum–as though those who engage in such activities never do anything else. In reality, we encounter God in all these ways you’re describing because treasure hunts are only one little tool rather than an entire lifestyle. If anyone here is ruling out a form of communication from God, it’s probably the one forming the case against the treasure hunts.

    You raised a question about what place discernment plays in this theology. Actually, it plays a very big role. While many Christians think that discernment means looking at all supernatural things with skepticism (and typically rejecting them), we see discernment as a means of sorting out truth from error within the context of supernatural activity. Discernment has to do with testing spirits, weighing the validity of prophetic words, and sorting out flesh from spirit (among other things). Discernment is not about making blanket accusations against things that make us uncomfortable. The Pharisees made a great deal of accusations against Jesus and His miracle-filled ministry–all in the name of discernment. In reality, it was fear and a subconscious realization that their own lives did not measure up to the standard being presented.

    And “the injunction that prophets should be judged on the truth of their prophecies” is not entirely accurate according to Scripture. Prophets are judged according to their character. Balaam was perfectly accurate in what he prophesied, yet he was considered a false prophet because of his character. False prophets were to be stoned, but prophets whose words did not come to pass were merely “not to be feared” (Deuteronomy 18:22).

    It is through activities like treasure hunts that we learn which impressions are God and which ones are not. There were prophets whom God sovereignly chose, and then there were the “schools of prophets” mentioned in the Old Testament. It is perfectly within the context of Scripture to practice hearing God’s voice–sometimes being right-on and sometimes missing it. The more we do activities like these, the more accurate we become in our prophetic discernment. How else would we learn?

    Finally, thanks for sharing that video of Kevin Dedmon. I want to be careful not to fall into the trap of defending a man who could easily fall (just as you or I could). What I will say, however, is that a ten-minute video consisting of some testimonies and a time of worship is hardly an analysis of a person’s entire ministry. I’ve seen the rest of Dedmon’s ministry and been rather impressed at the Christ-centered focus–even if some could easily call his methods “flaky” or “strange.” Again, if Jesus did not separate the Gospel of the Kingdom from miracles, healings, and other supernatural things, neither should we. While I agree that your video clip was not a presentation of the Gospel, I disagree that it holds any weight in leveling an attack against Kevin Dedmon. Again, I can’t defend him vehemently, but I can at least knock down an unfounded accusation.

    I hope I didn’t come across too harsh on any point. I have a tendency to write with passion, which sometimes comes across in the wrong tone. Please forgive me if I’ve conveyed a wrong attitude as it was not my intent.

    With my disclaimer out of the way, I truly do appreciate your willingness to dialogue on this. Feel free to respond, but please be sure to consult the Holy Spirit first. Neither of us can assume that our minds are renewed enough to be infallible. I’m trying to work out my salvation with fear and trebling just as much as you are. With that said, please feel free to respond.

    God bless!
    –Art

    • Chris E.June 15, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

      Art –

      A few points:

      From looking at your other writings, it would seem that our church backgrounds (AoG) are not dissimilar. My current church has links with a local franchise of a Bethel School of Prophecy, so I’m not exactly critiquing something third hand. I’ve also familiar enough with the charismatic world to know that signs can cover all sorts of things including; the truly miraculous, parlour tricks, wild claims and unproven assertions. Pending further evidence, it’s into this last category that I would put Brother Dedmon’s claim that his son walked on water.

      You are correct that discernment doesn’t imply automatically ruling out everything new. [Though it might mean ruling out some things for being unbiblical] I have yet to see any treasure hunt advocate talk about how it might apply to individual prophecies – though surely it would, even if only to guard against abuse

      I brought up Paul in Macedonia because it is the one example used over and over again to try and provide a biblical gloss for this practice. I think that the significant differences continue to make this problematic, which is why most advocates then go on to argue based on pragmatism (as you do in your original blog post and in your reposte above).

      The point about Baalam seems to me to be irrelevant. That a false prophet prophecies something true (and he only did so when the Spirit of God was on him), doesn’t give us carte blanche to come out with false prophecies and claim our intentions were right. “Make things up and step out in faith” seems dangerously close to “Putting the Lord your God to the test”.

      I’d join with you in agreement about everything you said about Christ. However, the content of what we transmit is not just our theological beliefs, but our methodological suppositions. There are many ways of gathering a crowd which don’t lead to long term growth. A diet of treasure hunts doesn’t prevent suffering, but it may not necessarily prepare you for suffering. I’ve seen plenty of people question their faith when God was either silent, or failed to act in line with people’s expectations.

      Lastly, I’m happy to let God decide where his Spirit should be manifested, I’m certainly not going to write off large sections of the bride of Christ simply because they don’t perform signs that I would consider to be miraculous.

      • ArtJune 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

        Hi Chris,

        Thanks for the thought-provoking reply. I agree completely with your observation that things in the Charismatic world include a full range of things like “the truly miraculous, parlour tricks, wild claims and unproven assertions.” In fact, I’ve written about this unfortunate reality many times on this web site. I think my best article on the topic (and one that might be good for you to read) is one titled “The Truth about Strange Signs and Wonders.”

        On another note, I’m not sure I understand what you’d like to know about discernment relating to personal prophecies. If you could clarify that into a more concise question, I’d be happy to reply (because I definitely agree that discernment should be applied in such cases).

        I agree that making things up and stepping out in “faith” is a bad idea. I would argue that such presumption is not faith at all. Faith is a relational word having to do with trust. It implies that you know God’s character and His will. I definitely encourage people to step out on faith based on God’s character and will. Sometimes that will is revealed in the Bible, and other times that will is revealed via personal revelation. I would suggest that Treasure Hunts have nothing to do with making things up and everything to do with trying to discern God’s present will.

        You are also right about there being more ways of drawing a crowd that don’t lead to long-term growth. Ray Comfort wrote a book titled “Revival’s Golden Key,” and in it he shares some startling statistics about the ineffectiveness of our typical evangelistic campaigns. One such anecdote–if I remember the numbers correctly–identified 600 people who filled out “commitment cards,” but the follow-up team could not find even one who made a single step toward Jesus beyond filling out that card. Clearly, all evangelism is about scattering seeds and hoping some fall in the right soil.

        Interestingly enough, Treasure Hunt evangelism has nothing to do with drawing a crowd. In fact, we often don’t even promote our specific church–although we will sometimes invite people to other relational opportunities for interaction and dialogue.

        You said that Treasure Hunts do not prepare you for suffering. I’ve had to wrestle with how to respond. I never suggested that they prepare you for persecution. I would add that handing out Gospel Tracts does not prepare you for persecution either. Neither do big community outreaches, church plays, surveys in the park, or Bible studies at work. We don’t do these things because they prepare us for persecution; we do them to win the lost by any means necessary.

        With that said, the one thing that does prepare us for persecution is being led by the Holy Spirit and not caring about our own comfort or reputation. These things can happen in the context of all these forms of evangelism, and they especially happen during Treasure Hunts.

        I too have seen people question their faith when God–as you put it–“failed to act in line with people’s expectations.” The interesting thing to me is that we haven’t had much of that problem. The people with whom I walk in fellowship have moments of wrestling, but their faith is secure. I would venture to guess that it has a lot to do with their conversational relationships with God, their passion for holiness, and the fact that we so often witness God’s supernatural power and love in action.

        God doesn’t heal everyone we pray for, but He does heal a lot of them. He doesn’t work every miracle we ask for, but He does work a lot of them. While some people shy away from miracles and healing (for fear of what will happen when God doesn’t respond), we regularly make opportunities for God to work. We see these things happen more often only because we make more opportunities based on faith in God’s character and revealed will. When the times of “dry seasons” or even persecution come our way, we have seen enough of God’s love demonstrated that we have less reason to question it. This sounds a lot more like the Book of Acts to me.

        Admittedly, you can do all those things without Treasure Hunts, but Treasure Hunts are a great way of taking this supernatural Jesus to some people who He knows are the perfect subjects for the unique ministries we carry. Rather than a “shotgun” approach–blasting as many people as possible (usually without results)–we take a rifle approach–targeting specific individuals not based on what man sees (outward appearance) but based on what God sees (the heart). We can’t do this apart from spiritual revelation.

        Are treasure hunts a “better way”? Not necessarily, but they are a good way. I’ve seen lasting fruit and good seeds planted. I’ve seen Christians drawn deeper into the heart of God. And I’ve seen the Gospel Jesus demonstrated looking the same today as it did back then. Treasure Hunts aren’t the answer, but they are a great training ground to help people step out into a new realm of listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit.

        –Art

  10. GordonMarch 3, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    “I care very much about sound doctrine and what is true.”

    What?!?!

    In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. (Titus 2:7-8)

    Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Tim. 4:16)

    What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim. 1:13)

    You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1)

    Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (1 Cor. 13:6)

    Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. (Hebrews 13:9)

    Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)

    I hate and abhor falsehood
    but I love your law. (Psalm 119:163)

    The righteous hate what is false (Prov. 13:5)

    I pray you seek the truth more and supernatural experiences less. This is what honors God. Remember, Adam and Eve were deceived by the serpent by tempting them with supernatural power.

    • ArtMarch 3, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

      Hi Gordon,

      Since you quoted me in the beginning of your comment, it appears you’re leveling a personal attack against me — as though I disagree with all the scriptures you shared. Actually, I agree 100% with all of them.

      I don’t have a problem with being wrongfully accused — that’s par for the course in Christianity. But I also care deeply about you and the condition of your heart. You don’t have to agree with the whole Treasure Hunt method, but I would encourage you to be careful with the way you level attacks against fellow believers.

      I recognize that you’re probably thinking I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to the verses above, so I’ll address each one in the context of this article:

      “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” (Titus 2:7-8)

      First of all, I would say that seeking out people with whom to share the Gospel is a great way to “set them an example by doing what is good.” Conversely, I would say that leveling personal attacks against fellow Christians is not “good.” Just something to think about.

      If you have spent any time with me, you know that the instructions of this scripture are my regular practice. Admittedly, if you’re directing this Scripture toward Kevin Dedmon, I would agree that he should heed the advice of Paul because he does often seem to lack in “seriousness” when he’s teaching (which opens the door for people to say bad things about him).

      The problem, though, is that Paul was not defining the actions of a true vs. a false teacher. He was giving advice to a young preacher. In other words, Paul was offering instructions for behavior rather than criteria for discernment. Timothy could have lacked all these things and would have still been a true minister of the Word — he just wouldn’t have been as effective. So while I agree with this Scripture, I disagree with your use of it. Methodology and sound doctrine are two different things. Just because you have something bad to say about me doesn’t mean I’m a false teacher. People had bad things to say about Jesus too. Paul is simply saying that we’re better off to avoid creating controversy by speaking without purpose.

      “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Tim. 4:16)

      Absolutely. And I do watch my life and doctrine closely. Are you looking at your own life and doctrine closely? Or are you too busy trying to find fault with me?

      The trouble with many of the so-called “discernment ministries” out there is that they spend more time looking closely at the life and doctrine of others than they do at their own. As a result, they live in fear of straying from everything they’ve known thus far — essentially crippling themselves in their walks with God. They look at the lives of others and see something that they’ve never personally heard of or experienced, and they consider that to be grounds for leveling attacks against such people. If they watched their own lives and doctrines as closely as they watch others, they would probably start growing more in grace and love.

      Satan is “the accuser of the brethren.” If you find yourself accusing others more often than you find yourself changing into the likeness of Christ, then you are a child of Satan rather than a child of God “who gives generously to all without finding fault” (James 1:5). Satan looks for faults; God does not. We can’t be children of both — it’s one or the other. I can’t possibly know if this statement is true of you, but it’s something we should all keep in mind as believers. You’ll have to examine your own heart.

      “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 1:13)

      What would Timothy have heard from Paul? What kinds of things did Paul practice and teach? Sound doctrine is probably at the top of the list. He also didn’t pull any punches when addressing sin and immorality. But these weren’t the only things that Timothy would have heard from Paul. Paul worked mighty miracles (Acts 19:11-12). He valued demonstrations of spiritual power more than wise and persuasive words (1 Cor. 2:4). He referenced a third-heaven encounter (2 Cor. 12:1-4). Even his own conversion, which he shared three whole times in the book of Acts, was based purely on a subjective spiritual experience with a vision of Jesus!

      These spiritual experiences and supernatural encounters were not absent from the teachings and lifestyle of Paul. So I would have to say that this is the definition of “sound teaching” as Paul used it in this passage. This tells me that any teaching absent of such experiences is NOT sound. The same way I wouldn’t trust a surgeon who has no experience, I don’t trust Bible teachers who lack experience.

      No personal experience can trump the Word of God, but never have I suggested such a thing (and to my knowledge, neither has Dedmon). Rather, experience helps us understand what the Word of God actually means. I have tested the methods of Treasure Hunt Evangelism, and my experience is that people encounter the true and living God. Reading the critiques of others (positive or negative) is not experience. Have you had experience with Treasure Hunts? If not, then on what are you basing your opinion?

      “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.” (Titus 2:1)

      This goes with my earlier statements. In the matter of Treasure Hunt Evangelism, let’s examine whether or not it is “in accord with sound doctrine.” Does God speak to man? Yes. Can God speak to man right when we ask Him to? Yes. Does God sometimes speak in mysteries, riddles, and clues? Yes. Are spiritual gifts for today’s Church? Yes. Is evangelism an appropriate use of spiritual gifts? Yes. Is there anything in the Bible condemning the act of asking God to lead you to someone so you can pray for them and share the Gospel? No.

      As far as I can tell, it’s perfectly “in accord with sound doctrine.” This doesn’t mean that Treasure Hunt Evangelism is itself a doctrine to be followed — and no one would suggest that anyway. Neither would we say that handing out Gospel tracts is a doctrine to follow. But these are indeed “in accordance” with sound doctrine. In other words, they do not conflict with sound doctrine. Thus I have no problem with teaching such a thing.

      (By the way, if you disagree with the premise of the “sound doctrines” I listed above, then we need to deal with a different issue. I’d be happy to discuss whether or not each point is indeed a sound doctrine. Let me know.)

      “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Cor. 13:6)

      I’m not sure why you used this scripture. Are you accusing me of delighting in evil? Again, what is evil about asking God to lead you to someone to share the Gospel? As Jesus said, “a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.” I most definitely rejoice with the truth.

      Interestingly enough, the so-called “discernment ministries” tend to get really excited about the faults of others. They prey on the sinful mistakes of others and point such things out as a means of propping up their own ministries. If you ask me, THAT is “delighting in evil.”

      “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” (Hebrews 13:9)

      This is the first half of a verse, used out of context. In context, the writer of Hebrews defines “strange teachings” as those teaching that require others to live according to ceremonies rather than by grace. The Greek word for “strange” here literally means “alien” or “foreign.” In other words, any teaching that enters the Church and contradicts what Jesus and His apostles have taught is alien, foreign, and “strange.” Treasure Hunt Evangelism does not contradict Jesus, and it certainly has nothing to do with forcing people to follow the Law.

      The way you are using this verse is implying that “strange teachings” are any teaching that seems strange to the hearer. If that’s the definition, then many of Jesus’ own teachings would be considered strange–like eating flesh, drinking blood, and being born again. Our own opinion about a teaching is not what makes it strange. “Strange teachings” are those which seek to pollute the Gospel of grace with manmade rules and regulations.

      Be careful about using Scriptures out of context. That too is the work of Satan (just like when he tempted Jesus), and I would argue that it is dangerously close to the category of “strange teachings.” Also, be careful what you judge in others (See Romans 2:1).

      “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)

      To correctly handle the word of truth is definitely important. I could be wrong, but it appears that your definition of “correctly handling” that word is to use that word to stop others from doing things you’re not comfortable with. I would say that “correctly handling” can only be understood in the context of the verse it comes from: it makes you “a workman who does not need to be ashamed.”

      Why would a workman be ashamed? Because His role was to be a workman, and he did no meaningful work. I’ll keep working at spreading the Gospel via whatever effective methods I can find, and you keep working at stopping me by taking scriptures out of context. When we both get to heaven, we can compare notes.

      “I hate and abhor falsehood but I love your law.” (Psalm 119:163)

      I too hate and abhor falsehood; but the only law I love is the law of the Spirit of Life, which has set me free from the law of sin and death.

      You’re starting with the assumption that Treasure Hunt Evangelism is falsehood and should be hated. I’m willing to examine whether or not that’s true, but this Scripture is not an argument for one side or the other. John said to “test the spirits” — he didn’t say to form opinions about the spirits and then accuse others based on your opinion. Lets’ examine the Scriptures, examine the fruit, and discern good from evil.

      “The righteous hate what is false” (Prov. 13:5)

      Yes. The righteous hate what is false. But hating false things does not make you righteous.

      Many “discernment ministries” seem to hate falsehood for the sole purpose of making themselves look and feel more true. That’s an improper use of discernment, and it’s full of pride. It is viciously anti-Christ because the example of Jesus is to humble Himself to serve sinners. Jesus didn’t attack people who had questionable spiritual ministries; He stood up for them (Luke 9:49-50). The only people Jesus rebuked were the ones who were opposing the supernatural work and love of God–those who looked at others with self-righteousness and claimed that Jesus was doing the work of the devil (which, by the way, seems to be what you’re accusing me of).

      Finally, you said, “I pray you seek the truth more and supernatural experiences less. This is what honors God. Remember, Adam and Eve were deceived by the serpent by tempting them with supernatural power.”

      I agree that we should always seek the truth more, but I adamantly disagree that we should seek supernatural experiences less. That’s unbiblical since Paul said to “eagerly desire spiritual gifts.” The Greek for “eagerly desire” literally means to crave or even lust after. We must have both. “Faith without works is dead.” You can’t desire either at the expense of the other. We must be passionate about both.

      Furthermore, Adam and Eve were not tempted by supernatural power (unless you can show me a Scripture that proves it); they already had dominion over all creation. Adam and Eve–who were created in innocence–were tempted with the possibility of gaining knowledge of both good and evil.

      Unlike the “discernment ministries,” I have no interest in knowing and understanding evil. (If anyone seems to be traveling down that rabbit hole, it’s them.) I want to feast on the Tree of Life, which is Jesus. I want to know HIM and the power of His resurrection. And I want to spread this good news in whatever way I possibly can.

      While I have defended Kevin Dedmon in this response and in this article, I am careful not to endorse him because he’s just a man. He could fall at any moment (as could you or I), and that would only give people ammunition to attack me. I try to be careful not to endorse men who I don’t personally know.

      However, based on my experience with positive fruit for the Kingdom, I will endorse Treasure Hunt Evangelism as a useful tool in the belt of any Christian. Nobody has to do it, but that doesn’t mean that we should discourage others from it.

      God bless,
      –Art

  11. Kevin McGuireApril 11, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    Do a simple test. It will clear up a lot of the fog…..

    Find 20 believers. Go to a local church of healthy believers. However you come up with HEALTHY believers who have been walking with the Lord, and are STABILE believers.

    Ask them how they came to the Lord.

    You will find that the VAST MAJORITY of LONG TERM, HEALTHY believers came to the Lord by the ministry of a friend, co-worker, neighbor, or family member.

    Now, I know there are a lot of “techniques” that people sell books over, and hold conferences around. I know they say that people’s lives are changed. However, you will find that these immediate emotional or pseudo supernatural encounters RARELY produce fruit that remains.

    Again, find CONTENT believers. Do the test yourself and you will learn a great lesson. God has equipped you and positioned you exactly where you are among a group of people who are unique to YOU. Then share the clear message of salvation with them.

    Peace

    Kevin

  12. Ed WarnockSeptember 28, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

    Art, I love your take on the validity of the treasure hunt. We as believers in Christ are supposed to go trough the whole world telling everyone about the Good News! Even more than that we are to “make disciples.” (Treasure hunts are about finding new disciples) Paul has an even more impressive point when he tells early Christians that one plants, one waters but it is God who gives the increase.

    Truth is every day of our life should be spent like a treasure hunt, asking the Holy Spirit to guide us to the ones that need to see the love of Jesus. Recently I was in a Jack in the Box buying lunch when a young homeless man came to the counter asking for a drink of water. He was told no they only allow one a day and the lady at the counter said she recalled he had been in earlier in the day. I told the young man I’d buy his drink, as the lady handed me the cups I handed a large one to him and followed him to the soda machine we talked briefly and then I told him that Jesus loved him and to consider the drink as from Jesus himself. The young man looked shocked, blurted out that I was the fourth or fifth person who had said that to him that day. He said, “could God be trying to tell me something?” He added he had asked Jesus to be his savior as a little child. We prayed with him and let him use our cell phone to call his mom to come pick him up. He told us his mother had kicked him out because he was drinking and using dope that he was bringing into her house. He decided it was time to go home and get things right.

    What if I had said I don’t know this guy, I should only witness to those friends family and co-workers that i have long term relationships with? what I am try to say here God is the God of the impossible and he is waiting for each of us to make our lives a “treasure hunt.” Like Mr Dedmon says, “God is good, all the time,” and so should we if we are really his kids.

    Be Blessed by the love of God today,
    ED

  13. NinzJune 26, 2013 at 4:27 am #

    Last sunday, we do that method with my co-youths at our community—
    surprisingly, our treasure map is 80% accurate…
    People get empowered 😀
    hahaha, God is sooo goood!
    —-
    Quezon City, Philippines

  14. Steve KeesingJuly 12, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    Hi Art, useful article by the way.

    I was looking for some kind of confirmation that this model is okay. I hadn’t read Kevin Dedmon’s book before trying my first treasure hunt, so I didn’t know about treasure maps beforehand, but after reading a ‘look inside’ excerpt on a popular book website, I felt lead to make some notes as I prayed one Monday evening, about an upcoming treasure hunt in our local supermarket which was planned for the Friday before Christmas 2009, whilst carols were being sung in the foyer.

    My notes didn’t follow the treasure map outline, but rather it was more like a list of name, appearance, location etc. for one treasure, then another, and another, so quite a bit more specific than a treasure map really.

    One particular group of notes had the following words – Christmas trees, young couple, Alex, brown boots, tattoo (left arm), and a personal message for this couple referring to these clues as ‘surface details’ and how God knows and loves them far deeper than this!

    Well, it was less than a week to Christmas and the trees had been moved to a different aisle to make way for New Year product lines, but right next to the ‘Christmas trees’ new position was a ‘young couple’ with a shopping trolley and she was wearing ‘brown boots’, so three out of my five clues matched already!

    I felt a nervous panic all over me as this was my first treasure hunt, so I went to explain what had just happened to a friend who had done this kind of thing before. His response was that he hadn’t seen it done like this (looking at my notes), but that he’d come with me to find them to have a chat…

    We eventually found them in the freezer section and the woman was looking in one of the freezers, so we approached the man and asked if the name ‘Alex’ meant anything to him? “Yeah, it does”, he replied, “that’s her name”, he said pointing to the woman with the ‘brown boots’. He called her over and told her to “listen to this” as we explained what we were doing. They were both very shocked, but probably not as much as I was!

    We then asked if either of them had a tattoo, and as it was winter they both had long sleeves, and guess what? She replied saying that, “He has one on his left arm – it’s a religious one”. I was totally blown away by what I had just been a part of, and we were able to leave them to their shopping with the knowledge that God knows them and loves them so deeply…

    I’ve never seen them since, I don’t know where they are now, but I do know that when we are willing to serve an omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient God who is willing to share a tiny fraction of what only He really knows, days in advance, then we can only respond by glorifying His wonderful awesomeness, as He personally demonstrates verses like Ephesians 3 v 20 !!!

  15. Tom CSeptember 7, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    wow a bunch of info here!!! if the kingdom is not revealing itself in your life with the holy spirits power you need to question your walk and your relationship with The Holy Spirit. Treasure hunts work, its the Leading of the holy Spirit to Bring people to Christ. the last time I did this with 5 of my men in our accountability group. we were out at our pre planned location and my friend points at a girl and says “thats her! the one I saw while I was praying” well we went over and began to speak with her…. she said ” I was wondering if God existed and if he did, does he hear my prayers?” I said that he does and we are here in answer to your prayers. she accepted christ and we gave her a bible that was supernaturally supplied (we did not come with any) . it is more about stepping out in faith and not being afraid of mocking discouragement and persecution, even from your fellow believers. discerment ministries are more about fear and judgement than true doctrine. people need to step out in the Spirit’s power and participate in the harvest of souls.

  16. EmilyFebruary 7, 2014 at 4:05 am #

    I know that for my self I’ve gone treasure hunting on several occasions and it has been the most amazing experience I’ve ever had. Getting to pray for and minister to total strangers is EXACTLY what Jesus meant us to do. It takes a real leap of faith. If u disagree I respect that, and I expect u to have the same.

  17. YonnieJuly 2, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    Are there sheets out there in the WWW that folks can use to hel them write their clues? I’m taking a group of children out and I want them to have a worksheet to fill in their clues so when we go they are able to be focused!

  18. RWDecember 22, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

    I used to follow a popular discernment ministry online, listening to podcasts mainly. I think for over a year the more I listened I allowed myself to become more critical of ministers and Gods people in the name of discernment but at the cost of love, true power, and conformity to Christ. I regret going down that road. I wasted valuable time that I could have used to reach out to people with the love of God.

    It’s interesting how those of us christians who claim to be the most discerning, can actually become the most deceived (similar to the Pharisees).

    I’m so glad that God let me see how judgmental and unloving I was and how there was no real fruit that I produced while being a discernment expert.

    I can say that ministries like Art Thomas, Kevin Dedmon, Todd White, and Curry Blake are the real deal!

    I’ve participated in treasure hunting ministry (mainly by myself) and God is faithful to use His kids for His Kingdom business whenever they are willing.

    God bless!

  19. NicoleMay 13, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

    My journey with Treasure Hunting has been long and has evolved and I have learned more than I could really share here and have seen God move so tenderly when I have risked to actually be his hands and feet.
    But I guess the part of my experience I would most like talk about is the list.
    One night I stopped at Walmart late after work and made a quick grocery list in the car. As I moved through the store, I just kept seeing all these people that had physical problems (couldn’t walk, etc…). I didn’t have the nerve to approach anyone as I had just started to treasure hunt. On the way out of the store, God said, “Nicole… do you really think you are at Walmart for bread? You do not need a list. Your grocery list is a list. You just need to see with my eyes. There is treasure everywhere.”
    Now I typically just try to jot down a quick list right after I park the car wherever I am. Just take a few seconds and ask the Holy Spirit. But in practicing to see and hear by the spirit, I often just know now who the treasure is.
    Recently, I made a list and did not find anyone. For a few days I really let that bother me and was thinking “am I not hearing the spirit? is the anointing for me to do this gone because I don’t do it as often as I should?” Finally on the third day I just asked God, “why did that happen?”
    He said, “Nicole… the list is baby food. You are past it. You now know how to rely on my spirit to see the treasure. The list is NOT FOR YOU. You are putting your faith in the list and not in me. The list is for the one you find, to build THEIR faith.”
    On an interesting note… sometimes the treasure now comes to ME! smile. I was in my car praying and making a list and a boy about 19 knocked on my window to ask if I was ok. I smile and said I was praying. He asked what I was praying about… Eventually I just opened the door and he hopped in (we left the door open! yikes!). I told him all about the treasure list. And HE told me that he was Jehovahs Witness and that he had fallen from grace and that he no longer felt he could approach the throne because he was a failure in many moral and religious ways… I was able to tell him about MY failures and about God’s unending grace and about the prodigal. I don’t know if that made any dramatic difference in his life- but there is nothing that would convince me that that wasn’t the treasure God was seeking that day…
    If you are unsure- ask God to reveal the truth about it. I like others strongly feel this is the Father’s Heart and urge you to at the very least read the book before discounting this move of God.
    Even when thing seem… crazy… our God is a God of perfect order. But often the more risk is involved, the crazier it sounds, the more it is God.
    One last story… one night in the middle of Fall, I had a list and there were a lot of random thing on it, like white tee shirt, gray hair, glasses… normal things. But also- SHAMROCK. So I was walking through the store and really striving to find a shamrock… and the whole time I am saying… “how can there be a shamrock… where… I must have misheard…” As I approached the check out there was a white tee shirt, etc… and I heard the spirit say, “slow down, pay attention…” I turned around and walking toward me was a man carrying an ENORMOUS box of Irish Spring covered in Shamrocks!!
    I never connected with that man… but as I was leaving the store, God said, “Nicole… when I say ‘shamrock’ I mean ‘shamrock’ and you won’t have to strive to find it and I will always be with you when you go… I am faithful… there will be a shamrock.”
    He is faithful. There will always be a shamrock. Step out in faith and watch what he can do.

  20. NicoleMay 13, 2015 at 3:31 pm #

    Just wanted to add on other thing… there is no condemnation if you do not hunt. There are times that I am tired, or my faith grows weary… God has said, “there is no condemnation Nicole. If you don’t do the hunt, you just miss an opportunity to move with me.”
    And also it is tempting to feel like the encounter you experience is about you… But God has said, “I don’t need you there to heal them Nicole. I can heal them any time I want… it is really about your obedience and what you are will to risk to be apart of how I move.”
    The very best part of the Treasure Hunt is that… it is completely illogical. And it requires such… humility. You have to just let go and say, “ok God. This is totally crazy and I might make a total fool of myself. And if you do not show up, this could be really…. embarrassing.”
    Ask yourself… how much do I trust God to show up. And how much am I will to risk to step into his Kingdom and move with him?
    Or maybe more importantly… am I willing to spend my whole life NOT experiencing the passion and thrill of stepping out with God just to feel safe and comfortable?

Leave a Reply

Contact Us Customer Service. Prayer Requests. Questions.
We try to respond to every e-mail we receive in a timely manner, but delays sometimes happen when we’re on the road ministering (especially when we’re out of the country).

During times of high e-mail volume, we will not be able to reply to every prayer request or testimony, but please know that we do read each and every message we receive, pray over prayer requests, and rejoice with your testimonies.

Customer service questions are answered as soon as someone from our company is able to respond, generally within 24 hours.

We look forward to hearing from you!
Send