To build on Matt's post from last week (HIS 401k), I wanted to talk about a ratio. Don't roll your eyes yet! We're not going into a L O N G mathematical equation on the best way to make a good first impression while evangelizing on a summer missions trip. The ratio I want to talk about is 7 to 1. 7 interactions for 1 invitation.
Ministry Ventures uses this ratio for their fundraising campaign. They suggest that you make 7 personal interactions (meet for coffee, lunch, send a text message to catch up, thank you letter, etc.) to get to know your donor before making the 1 invitation to donate. Shouldn't this be the same for discipleship?
Paul David Tripp says it best in his book: Instruments In The Redeemer's Hands. "You cannot minister well to someone you don't know."
To get back to the ratio 7:1, how many interactions do you make before inviting a person to living a life for Christ? Do you walk up and immediately hit them with the: "Do you know if you're going to heaven or hell?" question right off the bat or do you wait until you get to know the person before making that invitation to follow Christ?
To me, the question of our end destination, heaven or hell, is no different than a late night infomercial pitchman selling you something you don't need or already have. We all know that God loves us and wants us to have eternal life (something we already possess because God sent his only son to die for our sins) with him in heaven, but we also know that we are sinful by nature and living in a sinful world in which we are all destined for hell (something we don't need). God gave us free will to choose: Him (heaven) or this world (hell).
Our objective, then, is to get to know the person so we can properly understand their frustrations, desires, needs, addictions, etc. Then we can make the invitation for them to break free from this world into a life of unconditional love, grace, and guidance. A life where they can embody Christ themselves and share the love and grace, they we're shown, to those they meet along the way.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
This is our objective with Fully Packed Adventure Ministries. Value others above ourselves, do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. How do we accomplish this? Meet people where they do outdoor activities so we can get to know them first. This allows us to value them above ourselves and strips away the selfish ambition to put our own needs / wants above them. This allows us to then make an invitation for them to enter into a life with Christ.
7:1 is not a "do not diverge from" ratio. Some relationships will take more than 7 interactions and some will only take 1 or 2. The point is... really get to know the person before inviting them into a process of following Christ.
Some advice for the process:
Pray. Our relationship with Christ must be first. Share with him everything you are feeling about the people you meet and the interactions. Listen for His guidance.
Read His Word. Be in His word daily. Biblical knowledge and accuracy is important when the other person excepts the invitation. Don't misconstrue His word for how you feel it should be interpreted. If in doubt, seek out your pastor or other spiritual leader at your church. They will guide you to understanding His word accurately.
Seek Counsel. Not only will you be counseling someone, but you should also seek out the counsel of a mentor to help you through the process of discipling others. Discipleship is much like the Church - a community of people gathering together to worship Christ and encourage each other. Use your mentor to help equip you as you counsel others and worship Christ.
Don't Convict or Convert. Remember we are not here to convict or convert. We are merely ambassadors of Christ. We are here to share His story of his unconditional love and grace: a plan for us to turn from this world and live a life fully committed to Him. Allow God to take care of convicting and converting the person. All we need to do is let Christ shine!
Thanks and God Bless!
Photo Credit: Enrique Valdez FPAM Roatan Honduras Chapter Leader