The Great Commission Does Not Mean You Should Make Goals to "Save One Friend per Week."

At nearly every back-to-school youth group service and nearly every "rededication" service at youth camp, you can count on hearing a pastor say, "Go out there and save one friend a week for JESUS!" *cheers*

I am here today to show that goals of "saving one friend a week" are illegitimate and should be disregarded.

These types of goals are misguided, as they turn ministry, evangelism and what churches in the 70's called "soul-winning" into a "task item" or a checklist.

Ironically, most Christians who might adopt goals like this one denounce the checklist mentality for "did I read my Bible this week?" or "did I not lust this week?" You always hear Christians talk about "You don't have to pray for five minutes exactly on the dot, because it's not about a checklist religion!" Yet, many will adopt a checklist mentality for salvation. If that's not backwards, then I don't know what is.

Relationships are what are really important in all human interactions, both Christian and ministry-based or otherwise. My best friends and I did not become best friends by "getting each other saved in one week." We became best friends by watching movies every night, playing video games, and playing music together for years. You can't expect to be successful at ministry and actually witness real change in people's lives if all you do is get that kid on the street saved and leave him to figure the rest out on his own.

On the flipside, you can't just be all about relationships for the purpose of ministry only. "Oh, I'm only friends with that guy so I can get him saved." First of all, this idea is flawed for a number of reasons. If you really have that big of a Messiah complex thinking that you can save that guy or "pull him up" before he "pulls you down," then you have other issues at hand besides relational ministry. This also, by the way, makes a great argument for Christians not dating non-Christians: If you really have that big of a Messiah complex, you have other problems than whether or not you should date that [guy/girl.]

Second, what happens when your friend finds out that you only want them saved and then will leave them for your next "case?" They will get angry [or angrier] at the church and Christians, and begin to think that all Christians are like that. While that is not the case, the point is that until they have a counter-case to come along and show them that all Christians are not like you were [in this hypothetical situation] to prove to them otherwise. Wouldn't it be better just to not create that situation in the first place?

Third, we cannot simply make relationships our goal for the purpose of ministry. Our goal should be relationships for the purpose of relationships. Our goal should be to let our Christian lives show that Christianity really is the best way to go, not to just form a relationship with someone just enough to get them saved. You're just creating intimacy for the sake of an agenda.

Why? Why can't we just have ministry relationships? Because that turns ministry into a task item, or a job. What happens when you excel at a job for a long time? You become a professional. So what do we call a professional at feigning intimacy?

A whore.

A prostitute.

You're prostituting God's gift of grace and His wonderful message for your job. You're turning God's message into your job, as a professional whore. [Thank you, Bill Johnson.]

Your goal is relationships for the purpose of relationships. Do you know what the beauty of this goal is? It means you can appreciate people for who they are and actually hang out with them! Enjoy their company! You wouldn't make them your number-one confidant or anything like that, but you don't keep them at arm's length like a dirty sinner who might contaminate you.

When you're watching a movie at a friend's house and they pull out the [drugs, alcohol, insert other personal conviction vice here,] you don't have to up and leave to get away from it, though sometimes you might feel more comfortable if you do. Rather, you can show your friends by your declination that you do not need to have a good time. Then, when those friends are broke and hungry, you can show them Christian love by feeding them and taking them into your home or dorm room, without pushing them away for being a "dirty sinner."

That, my friends, Christian ministry at its finest.