Friday, April 9, 2010

Prospects

I used to cringe every time we met together for Tuesday night visitation and the minister in charge would say “Here are your prospects,” as he handed me a small stack of yellow cards. With one simple word, families became targets and people became profiles.

 

We would visit the families, tell them we cared about them, invite them to our church services and leave them a package of information. The ones who replied positively and came to our services became good acquaintances and even friends. The ones who didn’t show up at our church after a few weeks passed were no longer good prospects, and we forgot about them.

Jeff McQ recently posted on this very topic. His post is called Agenda Free Evangelism. Here is an excerpt.

Have you ever had a friend that got involved in multi-level marketing  and after awhile every time you talked to that person, you felt like they saw you as a marketing prospect? If not controlled, it can affect the very fabric of the relationship, because you feel like that friend has an ulterior motive--an agenda for being friends with you. And if that person really gets sold on their product and scheme, if you don't bite after awhile, you stop hearing from that person. You aren't seen as a productive prospect anymore.

MLM is a good analogy for how I've come to see our current methods of evangelism in the church. We're supposed to befriend people in the world and try to bring them to Christ. We see these "friends" as prospective Christians, and we're going to use the avenue of friendship to convince them of the reality of the gospel, get them to come to our church, or what-have-you. It's an agenda-based relationship, and just like you can spot an MLM friend a mile away, people can spot Christians the same way. Most people aren't idiots; they know when they're being targeted, and they notice when we disengage because they didn't jump through the hoops within a certain amount of time.

Jesus called people to follow him. He instructed his disciple to go and live temporarily in the homes of those who would be reached. There is something about the fellowship, friendship and union that allows people to experience God and his love and believe. I think that is what John communicates in the opening of First John.

We are writing to you with respect to the Word of Life, the one who existed from the beginning. We heard him and we saw him with our own eyes. In fact our hands touched him. This Life appeared to us, we saw him and we are witnesses. That is why we declare that the Eternal Life that was with the Father and revealed to us. We announce to you what we have seen and heard so that you will be united with us, just as we are united with the Father and with Jesus Christ his Son. 1 John 1:1-3

So, I agree with Jeff. If there is anything superficial about our care our fellowship with others… it is NOT the gospel.

 

My prayer: Father forgive me for when I did not act in love, but only pretended to love. Help me follow the example of Jesus, living out love and speaking truth with integrity. Help me to learn from the mistakes I made when I tried to market the Gospel.

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