Evangelistic ‘Projects’

‘We don’t want to treat people like projects’.

I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve heard that response. It usually comes when I’ve suggested that, as part of our commitment to proclaiming the death and resurrection of Christ, we might seek to pray for a couple of friends and seek to share the gospel with them this week. I’ve always been forced onto the back foot and had to play the hostility with on the defensive.

But now I’ve got an offensive response.

‘Better to treat them like a project than treat them as kindling for hell’.

Like it? It’s certainly offensive. In both senses of the word! But it’s true. If we’re not prepared to pray for and seek to share the gospel with a couple of specific people we’re, in effect, saying that we’re happy for them to remain hell bound.In ‘treating them like projects’ we’re saying you matter so much to me that I’m going to do all that’s within my power to help you hear and understand the gospel so that you might respond to it in repentance and faith. The Bible’s got a name for that sort of attitude. It’s called love.

Now, I know what people are concerned about. No one’s really suggesting that we dump a rote learnt version of Two Ways to Live on someone so that we can get into a fruitless argument on what happened to the dinosaurs. That kind of evangelistic approach might work with freshers at University. But in our neck of the woods people are more cynical  than that. They just think the gospel is irrelevant and they won’t engage until we can show that we’re roughly on the same page at some level. We’re talking about praying and seeking to understand and engage with what matters to the people who matter to us. I call that a project. People are my project. they’re what I’m about because I’m about Jesus. And so, deciding not to ‘target’ a handful of friends, colleagues or neighbours is, in effect, to let them progress on their  merry way to an eternal fire without choosing to warn them what awaits them at the end of their journey. We’re leaving the ball entirely in their court. And that’s fine. But it’s risky. I’m repenting of that. As an evangelistic strategy, it’s profoundly unloving.

One thought on “Evangelistic ‘Projects’

  1. Phil C April 2, 2009 / 11:14 am

    Thanks for this post. I’ve never heard people use that objection as such a blatant excuse to not pray for people or tell them the gospel!

    But I would use that phrase…I don’t think we should treat people as projects. By that, I mean that evangelism *can* be done in a way that is, or seems, manipulative, or that emphasises numbers over encouraging individuals to become disciples.

    If people say it as an excuse for not telling people about the gospel, that is totally wrong. But that is not the only motive behind the phrase. I have also heard it used by people arguing for heartfelt social engagement that moves beyond merely helping people so they will come to a gospel event. I think that is a sentiment worth hearing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s