All’s Fair In Love and Evangelism

fakefriendsThere are so many things I look back on from my Christian life that make me cringe: Homeschooling, “The Excellent Wife” Bible study, “Growing Kids God’s Way,” Harvest Festivals, Pro life rallies, and, of course, all the ways to evangelize the lost.  Just the other day, I was reminded of the most deceptive, deceitful and crafty evangelistic tools : “Relationship Evangelism.”

The idea behind Relationship Evangelism is that you seek out unsaved people and befriend them, with the sole purpose of bringing them to Jesus—“saving” them. There is an entire program designed for Relationship Evangelism, with flow charts and everything; I’m not kidding.  It’s all laid out in steps.  First you make a list of “prospects,” find ways to involve yourself in their lives  (there are lists of ideas to choose from). Then you invite them out to dinner, or to a sporting event, or a movie, and even invite them to church, but you do all this without directly sharing the gospel with them (There are lists of ideas for that too). You never hide you are a Christian, but you just mention it “casually.”  As time goes on—and this does take patience—they will become so impressed with who you are, your marriage, your kids, your other friends, that they start asking questions and then BAM!  You get to share the gospel with them.  If you are lucky they will have some crisis in their lives, which helps move things along.

Although I went through the study, I never really practiced R.E., but, I had friends who did and they always had a non-believing couple in tow, and we all knew they were the “unsaved friends.”  We would get progress reports and, of course, would pray for them to come to Christ.  Looking back on that now, I wonder how those friends would have felt if they had known all of that.  How would they have felt if they had known their new “friends” had targeted them, not because they genuinely liked them, or they were interested in their lives, but they met the criteria:  They were not Christians?  How would they have felt if they had known that we all looked at them as lost and talked about them behind their backs, I mean, prayed for them.  It just all feels so horrible to me now.

Of course, Christians don’t see it that way and many would wonder what the big deal is.  I mean, you meet new people, make new friends, and even win souls for Christ. What is the harm in that? Jesus did it, right?  He ate with sinners.  Right.  The truth is, when people are lied to and used as a means to an end it is extremely harmful.  One of the biggest flaws in R.E. is there is no chapter on maintaining the friendships if a couple says “no thank you” to Christianity and that is because the unspoken reality is you move on.   The Christian couple goes looking for fresh meat…er…I mean new unsaved friends and the friends that opted out get left in the dust.  Most Christians I knew that were involved in RE would say that it didn’t matter that their new friends were resistant to the gospel, they would still remain friends but, it never worked out that way, at least not in my experience.  The old couple would be gone and a new couple would emerge.  I saw it happen time and time again.  I just didn’t see how fake and phony it all was at the time.  Now, I find it disgusting, but you see, all things are fair in love and evangelism.

I wonder how many Christians that I meet now see me as a prospect.  I really look forward to the day when a Christian tries to practice Relationship Evangelism on me…it will be epic :-).

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. myatheistlife
    Jan 12, 2013 @ 01:09:05

    When the end justifies the means any immorality is acceptable. It doesn’t matter how much you have to lie as long as you end up with meeting your quota. That’s brilliant.

    Reply

  2. juliesamazed
    Jan 12, 2013 @ 02:50:16

    YES! I remember this vividly too! And I remember thinking that I wasn’t being deceptive because my end goal was saving their soul, after all! Looking back now, I see it for the game that it was. What a great marketing strategy! Here is another example of how I see the church now – they say it’s all done for Christ and his gospel, when in reality, the true goal (or should I say ‘end result’?) is just the perpetuation of the church itself. Nothing more than a disguised big business. Such a facade! Thanks again, nab!

    Reply

    • notabarbie
      Jan 12, 2013 @ 08:33:00

      Thanks Julie. So true. What’s interesting is that most Christians don’t see this. They’re feeding the machine, but think they are being obedient to God. I know I did. It’s hard to wrap my head around that. It’s so crazy to see it from the other side now. It’s a wakeup call every time!

      Reply

  3. Pretentious Ape
    Jan 12, 2013 @ 12:25:27

    One of the ugly things about evangelical Christianity is the way it devalues so many good things and turns them into a means to an end. The purpose of art or music, for example, is to glorify God (and promote belief). Nature isn’t a thing in itself; it has to speak of God’s glory or teach some moral lesson. Even things that aren’t derided as overtly sinful are often demeaned with adjectives like “worldly” or “secular.” Even friendship, as you pointed out, becomes a tool. And I know from experience that most of those getting roped into this sanctified fakery are decent people who would be good friends if left to their own ‘sinful’ inclinations.

    Reply

    • notabarbie
      Jan 13, 2013 @ 08:54:59

      So true PA. All those things you mention are good and beautiful in their own right and Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, etc., just eff it all up, by deciding which is godly and which is not. It’s kind of sickening. It’s so cool to see the world without that lens–amazing actually. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

      Reply

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