I’m departing from the series on First Principles– well, sorta– because I want to talk about something that’s timely.
As I write this, it looks like a political tide of historic proportions is about to sweep the U.S. This is not a partisan post. I’m not going to comment on whether I’m in favor or opposed to either the current direction of policy, or the predicted wave of opposition to it.
Numerous commentators on both sides of the issue have pointed out that it’s not generally a good idea to tell voters that they are too stupid, or angry, or inattentive– whatever– to know what’s good for you. In my years, I’ve seen this from all sides of the political spectrum at different times. In politics, it’s self-defeating.
What concerns me is that I have often heard this same thing from evangelists, preachers, and other church officials. For example, “If they don’t respond to our evangelism, it’s because they are hardened in sin,” one might say.
“Yes, I know, it’s terrible how blinded people have become by the corruption in society,” another might reply.
I’ve actually heard serious people saying this things. Repeatedly. For many years.
Imagine a business saying “Our customers are just not bright enough to buy our product.” Or buying ad advertisement telling customers, “If you actually knew what you were doing, you would beg us to sell you our services.” A business that says that sort of thing would soon be out of business.
But churches and political parties often become so certain of how correct they are, that anyone who doesn’t come on board is stupid, foolish, or not paying attention.
Well, the Bible makes it pretty clear that people–including ourselves– are in fact stupid, foolish, and not paying attention. That simply gives us a better idea of what our task is. It is precisely sinful, corrupted, hardened, foolish, and inattentive people it is our duty to reach.
Put another way, both political parties and churches that bemoan the condition of their audience should instead recognize that it is their message, their marketing, their communication that is lacking.
Next time you hear someone talking about how difficult it is to reach the audience, be aware that they’re really saying: We don’t know how to do our job. Because a prerequisite to learning is admitting our ignorance.