We’ve all seen those television shows or commercials where someone brings in their car to the mechanic to get fixed and ultimately, after the repair is done, there are a few miscellaneous parts leftover, that somehow never made it back under the hood. The mechanic miraculously fixed the vehicle but somehow didn’t need all the original pieces of the engine, that when the car was originally designed, were installed and implemented because that is what was required for the engine to run at maximum efficiency. Why weren’t those pieces put back when the car was being repaired? Sometimes it may just be the ignorance of the mechanic or person doing the repair. Other times though, maybe the mechanic thinks they know a better way of doing it. I’ve personally had this happen, and it usually leaves you scratching your head with the pervading thought “Really? Your way is better than the original design?”
Many of us have also done something similar to this, in various areas of our lives. We think we know better. We’ve got the inside track on a ‘better way’ of doing things. And many times we do. Experience and education enable us to be constantly growing and evolving in our understanding and abilities. Technology is advancing at an exponential rate these days. The person with the ‘new’ idea is often times the one who gets the promotion. But what about when it comes to the Gospel? What about Christianity and its evolving? Is ministry changing? Is there a better way to do it? People have obviously changed over the past 2,000 years so how does that impact the Christian faith and its practices?
With the constantly changing technology and shifting cultural values, we as believers and ministers of the Gospel must continually be aware of what is transpiring around us. We must be mindful of the current struggles and sins that people are mired in. There are most definitely different venues and available mediums for reaching people today. With the influx of smart phones and social media, people are in a perpetual ‘always on’ state and can be reached almost anywhere and anytime with anything. The world had changed. People have changed. But the Gospel hasn’t changed. Note…the Gospel hasn’t changed.
I have over the years seen many who want to constantly change the formula for reaching people with the Gospel. Change the venue. Change the delivery. Do more follow-up. Approach people differently. Leave people differently (joking). It seems there is always some new latest and greatest way of reaching people. The old ways simply don’t work anymore. People aren’t that way anymore. You can’t just rely on the Holy Spirit to change them or draw them (did you catch that?). You need to attract with the ‘bigger and better’. People aren’t going to want to stay in a church without all the pizzazz. We need constant social gatherings and cool matching outfits. We need precise follow-up procedures to be sure they keep coming. We better throw some carnival rides out in front of the church building so they are sure to stop by and see what is going on. Let’s even have some type of ‘first time visitor’ give-away so they might win something.
Oh and let’s not talk about sin. Shhhh….that’s a four letter word. Let’s not talk about repentance either, that’s just as bad. And don’t confront them about anything in their lives that may be in conflict with what the Bible says. We don’t want them to be offended. We want them to sign up to serve in the church. We want them to bring their friends. Just tell them that God loves them and keep them propped up so they make it to Heaven’s gates… “Ouch.” Problem is…at this rate, they may not get in.
Here is the thing. I know some of this may seem a bit extreme. Some of this may even upset you. But most of it’s not too far off. The Apostle Paul talks about ‘being all things to all people so that by all means he might save some.” I agree. We should want to meet people where they are. Be willing to get down and dirty if necessary to bring the light of the Gospel. But do we really think all our man-made additives will somehow enhance or improve the original plan? Do we really think all the worldly gimmicks and cheap secular knock-offs will get them saved? Do we really think we can leave some of the original parts and pieces out because we know a better way to make the engine run?
I’m all for using what is at our disposal to reach the lost. Use technology. Use social media. Use fan-fare to draw them to a place and time to hear the message about Jesus. But we should never feel those things are a substitute for the real thing or in some way that our man-made methods will help get them or keep them saved. Jesus Himself stated in John’s Gospel “No man can come unto me unless I draw Him.” And again He states, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” God has given us His very great and precious Holy Spirit as a tool to empower us to reach the lost. Acts 1:8 says ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you to be my witnesses…to the ends of the Earth.’ Power! The Apostle Paul himself many times came in weakness and frailty of his own strength, but it was the power of the Holy Spirit which convicted the hearts of sinners and changed the lives of men. We need to pray. We need to preach. Some try to use gimmicks and fancy shows instead of preaching what the Bible says. But they forget that ‘the message of the Gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing but to those being saved, it’s the power of God.’ God has chosen preaching as His vessel by which to reach the lost, however foolish or confrontational it may be. Jesus still saves. Not us. We never save anything. And if that’s so, then let’s stop trying to do so.
We need to pray for the lost. We need to preach the truth. We need to love on people with the love of Christ Jesus. There was an older Kevin Costner movie back in the 1980’s which has this quote, “If you build it, they will come.”. I believe this same sentiment holds true today for the church of God. So what if we don’t have the light shows. So what if we don’t have all the flair. So what if the music isn’t pop station quality. So what!! None of that stuff saves. Jesus said to the Apostle Peter, “You are a rock and on this Rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overcome it.” We are the church and Jesus says if we build our church, the gates of hell cannot prevail. If we build our church on Jesus…guess what? THEY WILL COME. Why? Because of us and all the fancy gadgetry and modern psychological techniques? Nope. Because of the drawing power of Jesus. As quoted previously “No man can come unto me unless I draw Him.” It’s Jesus who draws people-not us. We need to get on our faces in prayer, asking God’s Holy Spirit to draw people. Jesus said the ‘harvest is ripe’. The people are there-souls that need the grace and salvation our Lord purchased for us. We need to preach the message-not change it, to ‘tickle the ears of those who want something tasty to digest’. Preach what the Word says. So what if men reject it. So what if we are not drawing people in by the hundreds. Those that are drawn in and believe in the message will be saved. It’s not quantity but quality.
Let’s do it the way Jesus laid out originally. Let’s be wise and utilize everything we can to reach the world but let’s never let those things take the place of prayer and preaching the Word.