The stereotype is that (spiritually speaking) a lost person is a lost person is a lost person. They’re all basically the same in their spiritual orientation in that they’re separated from God and their eyes are not on God. But they’re not. They’re not all the same.
I can’t remember where I heard this, but someone distinguished three “types” of lost people (as far as their spiritual orientation). One group are those who are Seeking. These are people who don’t have God, but are looking for Him. They recognize that there is something missing in their life, realize it may be spiritual, and are in pursuit of God (or some reasonable facsimile thereof). Second are those who are Cynical. These are people who may or may not recognize that something is missing, but are skeptical that spirituality or God (or at least the Christian version of each) have anything to offer to them. Third are those who are Sleeping. These are people who do not recognize anything is missing, sense no need for a spiritual component to life, and give no thought to God.
I’d say there’s a lot of validity to these distinctions.
Those who make such distinctions will tell you that the easiest group for a church to reach are the “Seeking” (obviously), and second would be the “Cynical” (because even though you have to overcome their pessimism, at least they’re somewhat spiritually aware) and the most difficult would be those who are “Sleeping.” Again, I’d have to agree.
Here are my two thoughts on this:
(1) As we discussed with the shark fishing analogy and yesterday’s post about different post-modern types, you better at least be aware of these differentiations. Even better yet, you might want to pick which group you’re trying to connect with because you’d probably choose different methodologies for each.
(2) I’ve heard a lot of people say that we should go after those who are seeking. They are the easiest group to reach, so let’s reach them. And that makes sense; why waste effort that could be spent producing greater results? Some even make a biblical case for this (sometimes using the parable of the sower as an example of looking for “good soil” in which to plant seed).
I understand all of that, and I won’t even disagree with it BUT even still, at Forefront we have chosen to try and reach the “Sleeping” first and the “Cynical” second. So, yes, the group we want to reach is the most difficult. And yes, we could probably have greater results if we concentrated on a different group. And so yes, we do expend extra effort and do experience a lot of frustration without much payoff.
So why do we make this choice? Because someone has to. (And, really, isn’t that the choice God makes – see, for instance Isaiah 65:1-5.) (And not long ago I was one of the sleeping.) Someone has to, and I hope a lot of other someone’s are stupid enough to make that same choice and do what we’re trying to do. Want to join us? Let’s do it together. Next time we’ll pick up this same theme…
Until then … run for the hills.
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