Last week in his blog, Ed Stetzer talked about a conversation he had recently with a man who wondered why his new church didn’t talk more about prophecy. Ed explains: “At that point, I could have redirected our conversation and tried to persuade him that we believe in biblical prophecy and will teach on it another time (both of which are true). Or, (because) he approvingly referenced Jack Van Impe and John Hagee, I could have found some ways of positively connecting with each of these men.
“In most cases, I’ve decided that ‘this is not the church for you’ is actually the right response for “issue Christians” who are visiting the church…I simply said something such as, ‘We are not one of those churches that you would think talks about prophecy enough—this would not be the right church for you, but I do hope your search for a church home goes well.’
“You see, I don’t spend a lot of time with issue Christians. It’s not just the issue of prophecy either. I’ve had similar conversations with issue Calvinists, issue political Christians, issue charismatics, issue homeschoolers and many others. These are often good people, and those are important issues; but when these are the primary defining issues in the first (and every other) conversation, the correct response is help them move on and do so quickly.”
Ed suggests “four reasons to help issue Christians move on; the first two are:
1. Some issue Christians get stuck on specific ideas—you don’t have time to persuade them. It is simply not a good use of your time and energy to debate with issue Christians. Instead, reach your community, pastor your people, and get on mission. Focus on reaching the unreached, not debating church members about eschatology or pneumatology. If they know Christ, but are stuck on an issue, they will be just fine without you. Generally, you can’t fix them anyway, and they (eventually) will come out of it on their own.
2. Some issue Christians have divisive views—you don’t need them to fit in at your church’s expense. You can disagree in our church (to a reasonable degree) and still be a part—I’ve pastored cessationists, charismatics, Calvinists and Arminians all in the same church. The issues are not the issue; this person wants to make them an issue. Simply, issue Christians generally do not fit in well in a mission-focused congregation. They don’t want to.” (Click here to read the full article.)