“This project = God's work in the earth and His mission for you.”
Perhaps you, like me, have heard a ministry present a project that makes claims which amount to the statement above. The implication is that those who don't support the project have failed to support God's mission in the world today.
These attempts are well-meaning, but they indicate a disturbing willingness to use the church's mission to manipulate the church. After all, if God wants this done, who am I to stand in His way?
Each such attempt, in my view, is an attempt to oversell, because the case for a project is difficult to make. Remember the lawyer who said something like this? “When you have evidence on your side, emphasize the evidence. When you have public opinion on your side, appeal to the empathy of the jurors. When you have neither, pound the table.”
Efforts to sell or promote a project that seem “over the top” are often a sign that the project is difficult to make a case for. Attempting to equate a project with the mission of Christianity is itself an indicator that the promoters need to go back to the drawing board.
X Church decides to install a swimming pool and host swim teams as a local outreach. The church leadership promotes the project as God's way for X Church to fulfill the Great Commission. Furthermore, the pool provides a convenient place to baptize those who will inevitably flock to the church through the swim team ministry.
The problem with the leadership of X Church is that they have failed to consider that the proposed swimming pool is merely a way of advancing the cause of Christ. It certainly is not the way, and it may not even be the best way. The myopic view of the leadership prevents them from seeing the mission of the church advancing in their community, apart from the aquatic center. They have failed to consider that perhaps those who oppose the project do so, not out of disdain for the community and the unevangelized, but out of love for the community that sees more beneficial ways to use the same resources.
Next week, in part two, we'll consider “overselling” and its deeper implications for Christian organizations.
See part 2 of this post.