Alan Danielson recently wrote on his blog that he hates small group mission projects. I think his point is valid. He clarifies that he has no problem with missional groups, but rather with mission projects – because they're seen as projects, not as primarily about people or relationships.
How often do we view people as projects or goals? I remember having a conversation with a friend once about the fact that she had a lot of friends who were unbelievers. I told her that I thought it was awesome that she was connecting with those outside her church family and encouraged her to continue strengthening those relationships.
My friend quickly looked down at her feet. "None of them have come to Christ yet. I've really been trying. I keep telling them about Jesus." She was clearly ashamed by the fact that none of her friends who were unbelievers had committed their lives to Christ yet.
My conversation with her, and others like it, have made me wonder how often we approach relationships with unbelievers like this. How often do we see them as people that we need to convince to commit their lives to Christ? How often do we see them as checkmarks on a small group progress sheet? (Meet weekly? Check. Invite new guests? Check. Lead at least three people to Christ? Check.) How often do we view building relationships with unbelievers as mainly for the sake of accomplishing a Christian goal instead of for the sake of loving someone that God loves?
How does your small group approach missional living? What does your ministry teach about being missional? How might we approach evangelism with authentic relationships at the center of our mission?
I'd love to hear what you think about this topic. Also, be sure to check out our newest article Nine Principles of Relational Evangelism by Randall Neighbour.