What’s your motivation?
A couple of years ago, a mega church here in Texas tried to lure people to come to its Easter services by promoting the give-away of more than a dozen cars and other “prizes” (you can read more about it here http://bit.ly/dvG6Fp.
I’m sure that kind of “motivation” helped to boost attendance numbers … for that weekend.
But how many lured to church by the hope of winning a new car now live lives that are transformed forever as disciples of Jesus Christ?
I don’t know the answer to that, but if this attempt at false motivation is like other attempts to externally motivate people, chances are the lure had very little real life impact.
Motive has everything to do with real, lasting change. That’s a simple truth captured in the story of how a priest at the village church of Kalonovka, Russia was able to boost Sunday School attendance by handing out candy to the peasant children. One of the most faithful attending newcomers was a pug-nosed, pugnacious boy who recited scriptures with proper piety, quickly pocketed his reward, then fled into the fields to munch on it.
The priest took a liking to this boy and persuaded him to attend the church school. It took little persuasion since attending school was preferred to doing his household chores, which his devout parents excused him from so he could attend classes. By offering other inducements, the priest managed to teach the boy the four Gospels. In fact, he won a special prize for learning all four by heart and reciting them non-stop in church. Sixty years later, he still liked to recite scriptures, but in a context that would horrify the old priest. For the prize pupil, who memorized so much of the scriptures, was Nikita Khrushchev, the former Communist czar.
The “why” behind what we do is vital. The same Nikita Khrushchev who nimbly mouthed God’s Word as a child, later declared God to be non-existent — because his cosmonauts had not seen Him. Khrushchev memorized scriptures for the candy, the rewards, the bribes, rather than for the meaning it could have had for his life.
Simply put, artificial motivation will produce artificial results.
Are you trying to lure people to Christ? Or using the pure motivation of Gospel truth for pure results? And what is your motivation regarding Christ: are you looking for the sweet things He can give you, or are you motivated by love because He first loved us?