Someone asked me once, “What is the most difficult thing that you have to communicate?” Good question. I had never really thought about it.
By far the most difficult thing I have to communicate is that the approach I take to doubling a group is hard work.
I teach a party-driven strategy. It is a strategy modeled for us by Levi. The Bible says about Levi that after Levi became a follower of Christ, he Levi held a “great banquet.” The Message says, “large dinner.” The TEV translates, “big feast.” In fact, the text goes on to say there were two large things that day. They had a big meal and a big crowd to eat it. Jesus and his disciples were there, and a lot of Levi’s friends from the I.R.S. office were there. And you get the feeling many of them became followers of Christ because Levi had a party.
The story warms my heart because it closely parallels what I have seen happen more times than I can count. I saw it happen this weekend. I had a “dinner and a movie” at my house this last Saturday night. One of the guys who was there said to me as he was about to leave, “You do that Bible Study in your home on Tuesday nights, don’t you? I think I might like to come.”
Curious thing about this story and a gazzillion others I have seen like it is, we didn’t say anything about the Bible Study. This was no hard sell, in fact, it was no sell at all. We just hung out on the porch for a while and watched the sun go down. Then we came inside and watched a movie together. But as a result, he plans to come to my Bible Study tonight. (I am going to have lunch with him today, just to shore up his commitment!) I have seen this happen more times than I can count.
Because it is a party-driven strategy, I think some people get the idea that it is all a lot of fun and games. People laugh and smile at my stories and think “how charming.” I think there is something about these stories that resonates in people’s hearts and they think to themselves, “You know, I think I have seen that happen in my life as well. You are just codifying what I have actually seen work.”
People sometimes get the idea that this is all about light and fluffy stuff. It is all about card playing, coffee cake, fellowships, and having fun. It does not sound like the serious stuff of the gospel. It all sounds a country mile from, “take up your cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24 and other places).
In a way, getting people to do the hard things is easy. It is dramatic. It is attention-getting. It sounds sacrificial and super-human. It is easy to get people to do that.
Getting people to do the easy things, that is what is hard.
My Dad used to preach a sermon on the story of Naaman. Because I heard the sermon many times, Naaman turns out to be a fairly familiar character to me. He may be a little more obscure to you. The story is told in 2 Kings 5.
Naaman was Mr. Have-it-all-together in his day. He was rich, powerful, had a great job, a position of power and authority. Mr. Have-it-all-together. But Naaman had a problem. Naaman had leprosy. Leprosy was the AIDS of his day. Big problem, indeed. Naaman’s servant suggested he go to Elisha for healing. Naaman did. Elisha asked him to wash himself seven times in the Jordan River and he would be cured.
Naaman was furious. Paraphrased, he said, “Don’t we have great rivers back home?” “He turned and went off in a rage” (2 Kings 5.12).
Naaman had one additional blessing. He had a servant with a head on her shoulders. She talked sense to Naaman: “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something difficult, you would have done it. Now why can’t you just wash yourself, as he said, and be cured?” (2 Kings 5:13; TEV).
Now this is a curious thing to say, isn’t it? If the prophet had asked you to do something hard, you would have done it, but you won’t do it because he asked you to do something not so hard.
What is it about us that will agree to do something hard but will refuse to do something easy?
Whatever that is, it is that dynamic that creates the most difficult task for me in communication. Convincing people to do something that looks easy.