Friday, July 10, 2009

Missing the Point on Missions Part II

In a recent comment stream, I had a gentleman who apparently does "church marketing" trying to convince me that church marketing and trying to be appealing can't be all bad if it gets people in church. I came across an article written by one of the men from 9Marks, Andy Johnson, titled "Pragmatism, Pragmatism Everywhere!" While his subject is primarily missions, I think it can also apply to evangelism very easily. I'm going to repost his three main points here and I commend the entire article to you.

Evaluating Numbers, Not Faithfulness.

Also, I’ve noticed a trend for mission organizations to focus on numbers of “responses” rather than the biblical faithfulness of their workers as their primary evaluative metric. Again, it’s not that these organizations are wholly unconcerned about theological integrity. They likely have their workers sign a doctrinal statement, and they might be quick to address open heresy. But at the functional level, they seem to assume their workers are faithful and then actually test them by measurable, immediate, visible results—“numbers.”

I don’t know of any organizations who say that numbers are their sole metric. But their published reports focus entirely on the number of Bible study groups formed, decisions made, baptisms performed, and churches planted. So you start to wonder.

Now, I trust that all true Christians would rejoice in numbers insofar as we know that they represent true converts and true churches. But we must also remember from Jesus’ parable of the sower (Matt. 13:1-23) that the number of immediate, visible responses can prove hugely deceptive over time. I often get the feeling that most evangelicals haven’t internalized this warning and tend to think that the faithful ministry or method is the one that “works.” It’s as if we think numbers, not biblical faithfulness, vindicates methodology.

HT: Bart Barber

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