Every day, or as often as I pick up the mail, there are 2 or 3 pieces of literature concerning seminars, small group video lessons or Christian magazines. Most are designed specifically to help Hilltop Chapel achieve greater growth, higher Sunday school attendance or less people sleeping
through the Sunday sermon (actually, I haven’t seen that one yet, but I know it’s just a matter on time). It is truly amazing how much time and effort is spent, by literally hundreds of organizations, to keep us from sliding down the slippery slope into “evangelistic mediocrity”.
If the Sunday school curriculum is not of a certain type, then the poor little tykes who attend will not be spiritually nourished. If the hymnals or DVD programs do not have the correct balance of hymns, praise choruses and responsive readings, you are most likely overloading the congregation with too much of one or the other. This would not be healthy! If the pastor is not using anything but the NIV, KJV, NKJV or some other preferred version of the Bible, he is obviously misinformed and quite possibly a heretic.
One thing has become painfully evident during my tenure in the ministry. For every well-intentioned, biblically sound resource center there are a dozen that are driven by a desire to make a very tidy profit. Their packages are very glitzy and even present Bible stories and situations correctly. However, when you see the price tag attached to the product, you wonder how much prayer and soul-searching went into the decision concerning cost and profit.
Resource and curriculum material is not the only area of Christian endeavor where the profit motive has to be brought into question. Take a good look at what our young people and adults are spending for gospel music CD’s, MP3’s, DVD’s and concerts these days. It’s truly amazing! Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe that each person has the right to earn whatever he or she can for the work they do. I do believe, however, that there is a “God imposed” limit on what is reasonable and what isn’t for Christian entertainers, publishers, lecturers, evangelists and church leaders.
I know what you’re thinking: “Well, Pastor Rod, don’t you think you’re being a little narrow minded and even picky on this subject?” No, I really don’t think that Christians, no matter what their area of endeavor, should be motivated by profit. I don’t care whether you’re writing a book, singing a song or preaching a sermon, if your primary motivation is anything aside from pleasing the Lord, you need to reexamine everything you’re doing.
Somewhere along the line, Christian media, evangelists, churches and yes, even pastors, have gotten off track. We’ve lost the passion and substituted programs and gimmicks. Passion for God and doing His will keeps us fresh and alive as we relate to people and their spiritual needs. Too many evangelical leaders are so preoccupied with numbers, budgets and building programs that they’ve forgotten the primary obligation for all Christians. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
Should we utilize every means possible to accomplish the task at hand? Absolutely! We should not, however, lose sight of the fact that God the Holy Spirit is alive and well and working diligently among us right at this very moment. Are we leaning on God or our own understanding?
In many cases today, it seems as if we’ve said, “Lord, I know you are right here with me so, since I’ve already worked out all the details, You just go ahead and bless this project.” How foolish we are to believe that, somehow, we don’t need to consult the Lord until after we’ve put a product together and set a price on it.
I like the way the little publication, Our Daily Bread does it. They send out the number of copies you’ve requested every three months and depend solely on contributions for their support. Our Daily Bread has been published continuously since 1956 and never seems to lack the funds to keep going. Trusting the Lord for “our daily bread” is still the best policy. Is it a risk for the publishers to do business this way? Sure, it is. It is my belief, that they place every issue in God’s hands first and seek His blessing before one article is written or one page printed.
Many other Christian organizations practice the same God honoring methods. The Gideons place hundreds of thousands of Bibles and New Testaments on school and collage campuses, in the hands of service men and women and in thousands of hotel and motel rooms every year. All of their administrative costs are paid for by the Gideons’ membership and every dollar that comes into the organization through donations goes directly into the printing and distribution of Bibles and New Testaments. So, what’s the point of all this?
If we are truly trusting the Lord, He is going to provide for our needs and make it possible for us to reach as many people as He has called to Himself. If we have a passion for His will and are seeking His purpose for our lives, we will not need to worry about curriculum, hymnals, DVD’s, MP3’s or CD’s. He will provide everything we need to be successful in our outreach.
Do some of these resources have a place within the context of evangelism today? I believe they do. I also believe that we must examine our motivation in whatever we’re doing. We need to see how it measures up to God’s will & purpose. If you can meet His standard, go for it. If you can’t, don’t!