October 25, 2006

What is the goal of missions?

Seeker Sensitive or Fire & Brimstone?

My sister and I have had a minor disagreement about how we should present the gospel to the lost. She is fully immersed in the "seeker sensitive" movement. She talks about meeting the "felt needs" of the people. She recommends books that discuss how to evangelize without using words such as "sin" or "repentance." I have argued for the straight presentation of the biblical gospel in the same manner that the apostles proclaimed Christ—shining a spotlight on sin and calling the sinners to repentance.

But our motivations are the same—we both want to see people won for Christ. The question is: What is God's motivation for evangelistic/missionary outreach?

John 4:23
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

God is seeking people "to worship him." This is his goal and should be ours as well. It should not be to "reach people at their felt needs," because their "felt needs" are not their true need—the need for the washing of Christ's blood to restore them to fellowship with God. But it should also not be to grow the church, to fulfill my obligation as a Christian, or to mark another notch on my evangelistic belt, which quite often are my personal motivations for evangelistic outreach. After all, it should not be about meeting my needs anymore than it should be about reaching the lost at their felt needs.

In Let the Nations Be Glad, John Piper writes:

If the pursuit of God's glory is not ordered above the pursuit of man's good in the affections of the heart and the priorities of the church, man will not be served and God will not be honored.

Ouch! ... He's right. And his statement stings both my sister and me. Missions is not about man (not about the felt needs of the nonbeliever or about my own percieved needs); missions is about gathering people to worship the Sovereign Lord of the universe.

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