You've probably heard it said.
Maybe you've said it yourself. I know I have.
"When it comes to evangelism and the church—there's no plan B!"
Here's why I'm rethinking this statement...
Without passing judgement on everybody who uses this statement, let me tell you the context in which I've used this phrase—Motivation. That I can recall, without exception, I have used the 'no plan B' tact to try and rouse the efforts and energy of God's people to commit to either personal evangelism or at least support an evangelistic program of the institutional church. The problem with this however, is that I have come to see that there is a very fine line between motivation and manipulation—and that much of my efforts have significantly blurred the boundary.
Any form of manipulation is just plain wrong. Spiritual manipulation is horrific.
Yet even if I cut myself some slack and slide my efforts back into the realm of motivation, I wonder just how effective it is to use this phrase? What else could I be communicating?
My concern is that we may be inadvertently propagating a view of God that sees Him trembling and fretting, wondering if His people are going to get the job done or not—wondering if He should have had a Plan B. By manipulating, sorry, motivating people with the concept that 'if we fall down on this God has no other option', or, that God is so heavily dependant on our efforts so we 'better not let Him down', we are truly painting a picture of God that is terrifyingly deficient and, more than that, damaging to the church's faith.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating some type of Hyper-Calvinistic shoulder shrug as we watch the world go to hell in a handbasket. We ought to emphasise the gospel mission of the church. We should major on the priority of gospel proclamation. We desperately need to equip the saints for the work of gospel ministry. But we need to do it in a way that doesn't load their shoulders with a burden that is carried by Christ alone.
Instead of painting a picture of a cowering God who's crossing His fingers and hoping for the best, take out your easel and boldly paint a masterpiece that illustrates a triumphant God, a victorious Saviour, a Spirit who is both convicting and sealing a people of His own. Proclaim a God who is actively seeking and saving the lost, a shepherd who searches for the stray, a Father who embraces the prodigal.
Unless we are just one generation from the return of Christ, the church as we know it is not on the brink of extinction.
John's vision of heaven saw people of every tribe, nation and tongue worshiping before the throne—it will happen—it has been foretold.
We don't need to seek to rouse people to action with the 'No Plan B' line.
Plan 'A' is enough!
Matthew 16:18 (ESV)
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.