Are we better at “Out Reach” or “In Suck?” Or perhaps neither?
Some are now eschewing (now there is an old word) the word “outreach.” It seems we gave up on the word “evangelism” some time ago. And we never liked the word the bad guys use in discussion of our efforts — “proselytization.”
We took our eye off the ball when we decided to focus on those we deemed to be “seekers” so that word is now in decline. The way I see it the Bible describes Jesus as the seeker.
We drifted into the word “marketing” and some still think that is OK. But, and check this out in any Marketing 101 text, “marketing” means 4 Ps – Product, Price, Place and Promotion. That is “marketing” is concerned with adapting all 4 to come up with a “marketing plan.” I don’t think you want to fiddle with the first 2 Ps. I certainly don’t.
I guess we are still left with “advertising” but that one misses the point. You can only effectively advertise something someone is looking for. It reminds me of the graffiti in the washroom, “Jesus is the answer!” to which someone wrote “What is the question?” Advertising a solution to a problem people can’t see won’t get you far.
Only those who know they have a problem need a solution. Well, that is not exactly correct. Only those who have a problem and know it are looking for a solution. They need the solution whether or not they are looking for it.
The person who knows they have a problem doesn’t care if it is “in suck” “outreach” “marketing” or “advertising” by which they identify the solution. We need to get off our insider talk and figure out how to get their attention about their need and then the solution. What they want right now is probably not what they need.
They think that what they want is a solution. Probably it is more like a medication. Medication often masks the symptoms of an underlying problem. If there is an ache, Aspirin or its multitude of derivatives and cousins will make the pain go away. But the real problem has to take care of itself. Thankfully, in our wonderfully made bodies, the body usually heals itself in time. Foolishly, we think the Aspirin did the healing. But with the real pain of facing eternity, the problem never goes away on its own.
I knew more about the sovereignty of God when I was young. Over time, I learned that the number of people who came to Christ is directly proportional to the number I talk to.
Our responsibility is to “all.” Their responsiveness or lack thereof is not in our hands. Definitely, there are good and bad ways to approach people. If we don’t approach people in some way and sit around discussing methods we fail.
Most are not going to get it no matter what we do. More will get it if we learn by doing and talk to more people more often in more ways. We might be bad at it. But with most things in life you have to be bad at it before you get good at it. With the right sense of urgency, conviction and concern mixed with a listening ear we will get much better over time.
Whatever it is “in suck” or “out reach” I am in on it until we find something more efficient at getting the job done.
I hope you invest a lot of time testing to figure that out. If you do, you won’t go wrong.