Recently, I’ve heard a few variations on this idea. In a nut shell, it’s about Doing Mission, or Making Disciples amongst people who are receptive and productive. Too much of the church spends its time trying to solve the paradox of “What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?” God is the unstoppable force and oftentimes, human beings appear to us to be the immoveable objects. We tweak the gospel message, enhance our liturgies, build cooler and more hip places to “worship,” and massage our sound bites while trying to figure out why things aren’t working.
Here in the Cloud Forest Region of Ecuador, we say that we will focus the bulk of our attention on those that “have an interest in the things of God.” It ends up working out the same way. In our discipleship, which includes evangelism, our energies, resources, and talents are directed primarily to where the interest in God is expressed.
Now, I’ll admit that this line of thinking can be a bit dangerous, it requires judgement. (Mattthew 7:16) Sometimes, it can be entirely too easy to bail out of a relationship or situation because of our own frustration, impatience, or lack of discernment. There’s really no excuse for that. But, knowing when and where to redirect your energies can go a long way towards greater Kingdom effectiveness.
This becomes even more sticky when you’ve already entered a discipling relationship with someone. Life is messy, interest ebbs and flows. If you’re working with more than one person, sometimes it becomes necessary to decrease attention for one while increasing it for another. Likewise, when someone appears to be “straying from the faith,” you’ll have to decide if they are just escaping churchianity in search of Christ, or just having a temporary spiritual setback.
Either way, it’s a tough issue. But, here are a fe questions:
1. What criteria do you use to determine where you put your mission resources, time and people?
2. Is the idea “forget them,” (those who have no interest) and “Move on,” biblical?
3. In your spiritual ebbs and flows, would you rather have someone stick by your side until it works out, or give you space until you “come to yourself?” (Luke 15:17)