I saw this picture on my Facebook feed the other day. Don’t know where it was from originally but it got a lot of likes.
Many people right now in church circles (actually they’d probably say ‘We’re ecclesia of various shapes’) liked it, and commented to say so.
Before long the likes turned into some haters, haranguing churches that are trying to do things well on Sundays, like they were selling out to the man. The tame ones included…
‘I thought we were moving away from that old attractional model! Now we’re going back to it?
‘How do we go deep – incarnate?’
‘This! We have to make disciples, not attract more consumers!’
And so on…
I was poised to press like on the picture myself, because I’m all over the ‘make disciples who make disciples plan.’ But then I hesitated as I realised I was in danger of being fooled by an either/or. Something of a straw man had been set up. A false dichotomy.
I was attracted to my wife the first time I saw her (still am!). Then she made it very clear that the relationship would cost a lot more than I thought. I committed, we grew together, had babies, you get the picture.
I came to Jesus at something ‘attractional’ many years ago. Perhaps ‘accessible’ is a better word? People did their very best, to attract me – to Him. It changed my mind about church. Some time later the Spirit changed my heart about Jesus. I was discipled and developed by many, and have been deployed for him ever since.
So in this Covid-19 season, when people are so much more open and looking for hope than ever, I thought, “Why not think differently? Why not resist the either/or, and do both instead – as well as we can? Maybe playing to our strengths but not saying our preferences are the only way.”
How about – we put the left hand funnel on top of the right hand funnel, and join the two together, so it becomes an hourglass shaped discipleship pipeline?
My gift of art was unleashed…
If it’s raining outside and I want to get the water in, I don’t turn the thin end of the funnel toward the sky saying, ‘I just want good quality raindrops that are really serious about multiplying.’ That’s bonkers. Some of the people I thought would qualify for that along the way turned out to be just drips. He died for all, so now we do not judge by human standards.
But right now if we will open our eyes, we’ll see it’s a rainy season for the gospel because good news is in short supply (elsewhere).
I love the entrepreneurial thinking in Ecclesiastes 11 . It says if you wait and debate for the very best time, you probably missed it all ready. God says cast your bread on the waters – don’t be idle, sow morning and evening, here, there, everywhere. You don’t know whether either this will work or that will, or (I love the positive nature of this) whether BOTH will succeed! In other words, stop looking what they’re doing and get on doing something.
Jesus says, “Whoseever will may come!” He will never turn anyone away. He came to seek and save, and so many people now feel lost and alone, more ready for the hope we have to share than we are ready to share it. Get that funnel wide open!
Turn that funnel upwards and get as many in as possible, use all the social media you can, do it as well as you possibly can, to reach as many as you possibly can. (I am just starting that kind of thing through an online event called TODAY I’m planning with my NewThing friend Josh Howard on Friday 15th May. We’re putting the good news out across the globe for 24 hours through hundreds of evangelists telling the good news online in as many ways as we can through as many people as we can – watch this space for more – but please pray for that!)
Get one funnel on top of the other, then, get duct tape and wrap it tight around the discipleship funnel onto the right hand side. Duct tape’s great because you can take it off later if you don’t need it but right now help those people who are just discovering Jesus through your Facebook Watch party or whatever means. Challenge them to lose their life to find it, follow Christ and devote themselves now – AND have in place ways to develop them as disciples and leaders, ambassadors of Christ deployed back in love, service and a message of hope to this broken world.
Don’t make it an either/or. The world right now needs you to do BOTH, as well as you can.
Ecclesiastes 11:6 NLT Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.