Frequently, well intended believers hold to false assumptions that can lead them to be ineffective in their evangelism engagements or opportunities. One of these false assumptions is believing the fallacy that most if not all unbelieving people are basically unhappy moving from one thing to the next, longing to find genuine and true happiness (seekers of some kind). Ultimately, believers need to hit a specific emotional "pain barrier" then it will be like a magical wand that opens their heart to the gospel. The false premise also holds that most unbelievers live in a vicious cycle of sinful patterns that make their lives at the least unfulfilling if not outright miserable. While this is occasionally true, generally, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Being Lost can be a Lot of Fun!
False assumptions can propel well intended believers into unrealistic hopes of easily reaching these people with the good news of the gospel. Without establishing a long term investment found in a genuine relationship it will be very difficult to say the least. If the truth is known, most unbelieving people do not see their lives as unfulfilling or miserable. Sure they face ordinary challenges but who doesn't! Generally, most unbelieving people long to have fun and they have a lot of fun pursing fun things to do! Overall they like their job, love their kids, enjoy and love their spouse (in varying degrees) and manage life as it comes to them. In fact, I would go so far to say that "religion" or "faith issues" are not even on the radar screen of most people in any capacity. Do you remember the comedy; Planes, Trains, & Automobiles? The characters played by John Candy & Steve Martin are traveling down the interstate on the wrong side of the road. This stems from an earlier hilarious mishap. While rolling down the interstate without a care in the world having a good time, they are fully unaware of looming danger. Frequently, people pursue things that culture projects as fulfilling all the while being duped into temporal hedonistic pursuits that have little consideration for long-term consequences. Spiritually lost people do not know they are "lost" and they are simply pursuing the things they believe will bring them happiness, contentment and FUN - no matter how temporal it may be!
Reflecting on your Circle of Friends
Honestly, sit for a moment and think about 3 people you know who do not appear to have a relationship with Christ. Answer the following questions about each person:
- Would they generally see their life experience as positive?
- Do they generally experience happiness in their lives (even if it might be short term or shallow)?
- Do those people generally see themselves as being a "good" person?
- They spend considerable time seeking the pleasures in life no matter how they define them?
- They avoid at all cost anything religious especially church unless it is unavoidable and/or easily managed?
- On the whole, they see themselves as making a contribution to society and they make a positive impact on their neighborhood, workplace and family.
Now if the friends you were thinking about answered "yes" to the six questions - chances are they would fit in the category of "being lost and loving it." People who are in this phase or category of "spiritual lostness" do not face catastrophic life challenges or problems.
Reaching people like this can be a significant challenge because they do not have many felt spiritual needs. Oftentimes they are simply having way too much fun participating in their life activities that may or may not be "sinful." Thus they don't see any need nor do they have a desire to change. If they are involved in blatant sinful lifestyles they are more than likely enjoying it far to much to stop. Let's face the truth, sin can be fun! At least for a while. Seldom do they ask themselves the big questions of life because they don't want to know the answers. Further, if they go "too deep" on the questions... it may force them to deal with issues they would rather not confront because it would require them to encounter pain they can avoid. Let's be honest, when things are going well, who really wants to change?
Ideas for Reaching the "Lost & Loving it Person"
First, it is vital that you look at reaching this person over time. It is not going to be a short term series of engagements. Building the relational bridge based on common ground is the most important thing you can do. Remember, bridges come in all shapes and sizes customized to overcome various barriers that impede two sides from meeting. Not all bridges are alike. Some take longer to construct and costs vary for each bridge. Many don't want to make this kind of investment but it is perhaps the most important thing you can do. Continue to build the bridge. Second, the most difficult issue that you are going to have to overcome is raising the persons interest or awareness of spiritual matters. This may come in the form of making the person aware of the real meaning of life. Perhaps a good starting point is to build a genuine relationship then begin to ask the person the big questions of life (many found on this web page!). These questions may prompt them to begin their journey! Third, remember that this may be a phase or season of life. They may really enjoy their lives quite a bit now but you never know what life brings around the next bend in the road. It may be a season of temporal happiness or contentment. Prayer is the key and the power of the Holy Spirit can do things far greater than what we can hope for. You should have a "Most Wanted" list of unbelievers you pray for regularly. These should be people who you hope to see make progress towards faith and ultimately embrace faith in Christ. Fourth, Kamp recommends that you use three questions designed by Ken Hemphill to "prime the pump" with a person who is in the phase of "Lost & Loving it."
- What is your religious heritage?
- Has your heritage helped you answer the important question you are asking in life?
- What are the questions you are asking?
It is important to remember that people like this are very difficult to reach at this point in time. In all honesty, I know a lot of people in this category. It is helpful for me to remember that right now they are "reachable but not reapable." But it doesn't mean that they will be forever. So this should significantly impact your strategy or approach. Hopefully, this brief article was a help to you as you deal with people who are "lost but loving it."