Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Inflating numbers

I had a nice chat with a friend last night about some mission work we'd done together several years back. He's become discouraged that the results of our work hadn't really taken root, and has changed the focus of his ministry to something entirely different.
I have to agree with him on a lot of what he said. We saw dramatic results of "our" work. Hundreds, if not thousands of men and women responded to the prestentation of the Gospel. The problem is that the Bible clearly teaches that if a person is in Christ, he is a "new creature" and therefor will not continue his life along the same pattern it was running before that.
In the years of the ministry he was in, the thousands of converts would have had something of a ripple effect in the nations of the work.
Now, I fully understand that we don't know what really went on in those hearts, and the stresses and cultural pressures that are involved in the lives of those men and women today; but we should expect to see some visible result. But we see little if any.
That's one part of the problem. The other part is the practice of those in that ministry (myself included) to claim for Christ the full number of decisions for Christ without at least qualifying it with commentary as to the cultural issues. The people in 3rd world nations like to please the visitors. If you ask, they'll respond the way they think you want them to.
Another problem in the ministry we were in was that there was no follow up for most of the folks with whom we dealt. If we saw 500 converts, maybe a few would trickle into local churches in the next month or so. Maybe some would sit down and really read the Bibles we gave them. But if 10 out of the 500 were growing Christians by the end of the year, I'd be surprised.
My friend has re-directed his ministry to young children. He believes, and I must agree, that if you change the children, you will change the nation.
The scary part of that is that it's working in this country, but going in the wrong direction!

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