I am an evangelist. Someone who is called and dedicated to proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ to the world. So, when that good news takes root in someone’s heart, shouldn’t I be the first person to publish this information?
I don’t. And for the record I don’t think it is wrong to do it.
The Bible is replete with numbers. There is a whole book dedicated to this. It’s even called “Numbers”. It is not wrong or sinful to publish numbers of spiritual decisions. In fact, I do publish numbers of non-spiritual decisions. Metrics like attendance at our conferences and the number of people our ministry reaches with the truth are important to me. I want to be faithful to proclaiming the truth to the world. Knowing how many people we reached with truth is important. However, how a person responds to the truth is not something we publish on a regular basis or in our newsletter. Here is why:
1. I can’t see people’s hearts.
When God sent Samuel to anoint David as king over Israel he reminded Samuel that God sees what no man can, the heart. While I can see a raised hand, a check on a card, or hear someone pray a prayer, I can’t see their heart. God looks at that. And while I may be able to report what they told me. I can’t report on the condition of their heart. Only God sees it.
2. It can be tempting to push someone to say they made a decisions when they really haven’t.
I traveled one summer with a team evangelist. There were 8 or 9 teams of two that held week long rallies at churches. Each night we were encouraged to call in the type and number of spiritual decisions we had made. That summer I learned how easy it was to be motivated by raised hands or marked decisions cards. I don’t want my preaching to be focused on a decision. I want it to be focused on what God has called me to say.
Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled when people make decisions. But I want those decisions to be cultivated by the Holy Spirit. Not because I wanted to report to my constituency that God did a work.
3. I need to focus on my job, not the Holy Spirit’s.
God gave the job of preaching and teaching His word to mankind. I Corr. 1:21
It is my job to communicate with creativity and passion and love the truth of God’s word. But it is not my job to change people. That is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit. I am not really interested in keeping track of how well the Holy Spirit did.
4. I don’t want someone to think I am taking credit for what God did.
When a person comes to faith or has a change of heart that is 100% a work of God; we should get excited about this. I think we should run a lap around the church more often than we do. We should clap a little more in our church services. We should celebrate when God shows up. But I don’t want to ever take credit for what God did. By not reporting spiritual decisions, this makes things easy.
I don’t for a second think that all people who report decisions are taking credit for what God is doing. But if we are being honest, that is exactly what some people are doing. Thankfully these are the few. Most people I know are reporting spiritual decisions so that others can celebrate with them; however, for our ministry I feel led to not post spiritual decisions.
5. God is going to provide. I don’t need to manipulate people to give.
One of the reasons some people post results of spiritual decisions is to motivate people to give. I realize that people need to give to the work of evangelism. Unsaved people are not going to pay you to preach the gospel to them. So, evangelism must start with Jesus followers, Christians. When you choose a ministry to partner with financially, you need to make sure that God is using that ministry to reach others.
For this reason I like to report non-spiritual decisions. Or decisions of people that I talked to personally. I also like to generalize things without numbers by saying something like “I feel like God really worked in this service.” (I don’t know if he did, I can’t see the wind but I sensed something in that room.) I also like to report numbers that we had attend. In this way people know that we are reaching others with the truth. When we started planning our first purity conference I was hoping we would have 300 show up. After a lot of hard work, over 1,100 lives were reached at the first conference. I can measure that. I am glad that those people received truth. As far as what God did in their hearts, I can’t know exactly.
I am torn on a regular basis, but if you were wondering, this is the policy that God has directed to me this far. It is just my preference and the Lord may direct me differently in the future. Maybe you have some guidelines for reporting what God has done.
Do you post or share spiritual decisions? How do you handle it? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.