Thursday, June 15, 2017

Motivating People to Reach Others

In our present world, a great deal of effort is spent on advertising the church in hopes of gaining new members.  Ads appear on television and radio, on billboards and in flyers everywhere.  Visitation programs, revivals and soul winning campaigns and membership drives are promoted to try to draw people to the church.  Every Christian is taught that it is his responsibility to reach out to others. 

Interestingly, Jesus used none of these techniques in spreading the gospel.  In fact he frequently instructed people not to tell anyone about him.  This included the leper who was healed in Matthew 8, the parents of the girl who was restored to life in Luke 8, and the disciples in Matthew 16:20.  His own brothers insisted he needed to do more to publicize himself if he was to gain a following in John 7. People flocked to hear Jesus despite his not trying to publicize himself, when they saw the difference he made in other people’s lives.   Even his enemies could not deny that the changes were real, although they refused to believe on him.   Those who benefitted from his miracles found it almost impossible not to share what he had done. 

In today’s world, almost every grandparent is eager to talk about their wonderful grandchildren and their accomplishments, and teenagers drive their friends to distraction talking about their boyfriend or girlfriend.  Because they love their grandchildren or their boyfriend or girlfriend so much they want everyone to know about them.  Nobody has to tell them to talk about them, but may have to ask them to talk about something else. 

Similarly, if Christians love the Lord and appreciate what he has done for them, they will not need to be instructed to go out witnessing.  Jesus will be the most important subjec6t on their mind and they will naturally talk about him.   If we want to motivate our people to witness, instead of spending time on motivational programs, we need to spend time teaching them who Jesus is and how much he loved them, encouraging them to fall in love with him.  As they do so, witnessing will come as naturally and easily as telling about one’s grandchildren or boyfriend or girlfriend.   It will no longer be a chore or a duty, but a pleasure. 

At the same time, the better they get to know him the more like Christ they will become, according to II Corinthians 3:18.  “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”   As the people see the changes in their lives they will begin to understand That Christ has made a real difference and be drawn to learn more in hopes of seeing similar changes in their own lives.   This will have a far greater impact than any amount of advertising or church building campaigns could ever have. 

This approach has another important effect on the church.  The pastors and teachers will be free to spend the time that otherwise would be spent on motivation on teaching the church instead.  The people will not experience the frustration of hearing similar motivational messages repeatedly, but will be constantly learning and growing closer to Christ and becoming more like him, making them more effective as witnesses. 

It is the method Jesus used, but it also the method Paul used in starting numerous churches.  Initially the results may take a little longer, because it takes time for people to grow, but ultimately, they will be far more productive.   A person may be able to get fruit sooner by grafting and trimming a tree to cause it to become a dwarf, but maximum fruit will result by taking the time to help it grow to full size.     

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