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There may be good reasons not to share the gospel at your next church gathering.

Let me unpack this a bit.  At Living Hope Church we are all about relationships. “Building relationships that change lives” is how we summarize the disciple-making process.  We believe that honest relationships are so central to the way God wired us (and the way He spreads the truth of His Word) that we make small group life a primary goal of our church.  We help people connect with a small group of eight to twelve friends – called a LifeGroup – who do life together.

But for many people – especially those fairly new to Living Hope – jumping into a small group that knows each other deeply and relates openly…  that’s a big hairy scary step.  In fact, that may just be enough to chase someone who needs Jesus away from our church forever.  That’s bad. We can agree that people fleeing our church in fear is bad.

On a Sunday morning, with a couple hundred people swirling about, it can be difficult to really connect with others in any meaningful way.  It is just too big an environment.  So we intentionally offer other small-environment options where people can interact and really start to get to know one another.

Starting Point Events.  Our goal in any given Starting Point Event is not to share the gospel.  It is simply to HAVE FUN.

FUN is a God-honoring goal.

I know that some might see this as frivolous.  How can we justify spinning our wheels just having a good time when some of those in our midst might be doomed to an eternity without God?  We can and we do because we see evangelism as a process, not an event.  Even more to the point, Jesus called us in Matthew 28 to make DISCIPLES, not just converts.  Conversion is our starting line, in many ways… not our finish line.

So we are continually in the process of developing long-term relationships.  And long-term relationships often begin huddled around a fishing hole, or standing over a grill.  And we recognize, too, that long-term relationships rarely begin by probing into someone’s spiritual condition from the word go.  Too much too soon may actually close doors.  If you say you’re going to do something fun, let it be just that.  FUN.  Fun is enough.

Check out the video below, and get a glimpse of last Sunday’s Starting Point Event for Living Hope.  Ice fishing.  Grilled meat.  Snow football.  Good times.

Just fun.  And no Gospel message.  No bait and switch.  Just ice fishing.  It was the Church being the Church, having Church, and enjoying the Sabbath in community.  A mix, by the way, of mature believers and a handful of non-Christians.  Healthy friendships and fun are attractive.  Period.  It very well could be that one or two of those guys might find their way to faith through a relationship that was started huddled over a grill on Pelican Lake.

What do you think?  Did we miss an opportunity to share the Truth with someone who needed it?  Or can you see the bigger picture… and do you agree?  Discussion welcome.

 

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“please don’t share the gospel :: fishers of men, yes… bait and switch evangelism, no” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.