Don't Waste Your Mission, or Disciple Making Time, On Those Who Are Not Interested?

broken_hourglass“We must invest everything in the few who will bear fruit. Life is too short and the potential yields are too great to spend our lives babysitting fruitless people.” ~ Neil Cole

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)

 

0 thoughts on “Don't Waste Your Mission, or Disciple Making Time, On Those Who Are Not Interested?

  1. Brandon says:

    My answers to your questions would be as follows:

    1) Honestly, it’s more about letting the people decide for themselves. We have the notion that we should be soaked in the things of God & his kingdom to the extent that it affects all that we are. That means in conversation/interactions/relationships it’s going to keep coming up. Those that aren’t interested at all, in any way, generally stop responding to you quickly. If they do continue responding, but aren’t all that spiritually hungry (for us this means obedience based discipleship: responding to the word of God and sharing with others) I’ll continue to spend time on a relational basis but not nearly as often (these people I generally reach out to monthly or quarterly).

    2) I don’t really think it is super biblical but comes from our western notions of achievement. See point 1 though: most often we don’t have to forget them and move on because people do that to us.

    3) this is why it’s important, *for me* (don’t want to necessarily force everyone else into my paradigm) to continue relationship where relationship is desired. I’ve had people be not afraid of the spiritual talk build relationship and because I stuck with them, years down the road come to me when God signficantly gripped their hearts.

  2. Elias says:

    1) Well, criteria for people who need to meet God; everyone. i’ve found this easier and more truthful to look at things like this. It’s not because on the exterior everything looks okay and with somebody else on the exterior nothing looks okay, that the latter person really needs to be talked to and the first one hasn’t. The only we can factually know who needs it asap (though everybody does) is by starting a conversation. So, in fact, we need to talk to everyone firstly, and based on the info we get, we can (and should) trust that the Spirit will guide us to spending a certain amount of time with X and another amount of time with Y.

    2) Dust off my feet. So much easier to say than to decide when it’s acutally time to wipe the dust off of your feet. Also differs from person to person and situation from situation. Trust in the Spirit. I’ve learned that the Spirit, or somebody else who was in the Spirit, will always point you whether a certain decision is made out of self or out of the Spirit.

    3) Differs from person to person. Some are open to the ‘constant’ guiding, others aren’t. I needed a healthy mix of both, for example.

  3. Galen Currah says:

    1. What criteria do you use to determine where you put your mission resources, time and people?

    Most resources go towards the responsive who remain under-served.

    2. Is the idea “forget them,” (those who have no interest) and “Move on,” biblical?

    Jesus commanded to “shake the dust from your feet,” when rejected by a community. Often that entails remaining in a same city or territory while seeking responsive folk in another ethnic community or social class, often the poor.

    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)

    That is a different issue. There are those who are called and gifted to provide counsel or pastoral care where allowed to do so. However, outreach ministries must put there resources mainly towards the neglected responsive.

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