2007 December

Many of us on the field are active recruiters. We are always looking for people who would be especially suited for ministry in Western Europe. Many strategists find new partners by talking about their people group. They describe the beauty of the culture, the proud history of the people, and the great spiritual need among them. The idea, I suppose, is that God would use the stories to stir the hearts of listeners and get them excited about being part of ministry overseas. 

To most American churchgoers (even the really spiritual ones), people groups are all pretty much the same. Missionaries should be constantly talking about and advocating for their people group. That’s how we raise support and awareness.  But as a recruiting and raising support aren’t the same thing. Telling stories of a people group’s plight can tug at the heart strings, but as a recruiting (and filtering device), it only helps us find the most sensitive and emotional members of our audience.  Recruitment is a funny concept, really. Are we looking for people to serve our people group or are we looking for people to join our team? In order to find people who are called, enthusiastic, and qualified to work with us, I believe we need to be casting a vision not only for local cultures and people groups, but also for our teams and strategies. A team that works well together and is committed to one another is worth a thousand that can’t get along but really love their people group. 

As I talk with other Christians about life and society and current events, it strikes me how suspicious we are of everyone. The atheists have taken over the public school system. The homosexuals want to turn all boys gay. The Mexicans are invading. The Muslims want to outlaw Christianity. Universal health care is communism. Don’t watch The Golden Compass. The Mormons own Coca-Cola.

We’re certain everyone is out to get us. Everyone surely has an ulterior motive and a hidden agenda.  Of course I’m aware of the scriptural warning about the dangerous activity of our spiritual enemy. I know that we aren’t safe. We have good reason to be watchful, wary, and wise. But I’m also wondering if our paranoia might be due, at least in part, to that fact that we aren’t always the most up-front about our agenda. Maybe we distrust the people and organizations around us because we have a long history of misleading people about who we are and what we really want from them.  We’re not just knocking on your door to say thanks for visiting our church; we want you to pray a prayer of salvation. You’re invited to our fellowship, but we’ve carefully planned it as an entry point for you to join our church. We ‘re only giving out coats and blankets as bait to get you to sit through a sermon.   Why is it okay for us to do it but scary when others do? Does it make a difference just because we’re right? I wonder what would happen if we were totally up front and honest about our agenda. What about giving up our agenda altogether?  I suspect it might lead us to abandon many of our methods, approaches, and techniques.