It seems impossible for Evangelicals to love and be kind to others without having some sort of ulterior motive for doing so. I have written about this issue here: Beware of Evangelicals Coming in the Name of Friendship and How to Turn Your Evangelical Teens into Annoying Fake Friends. Evangelicals are the equivalent of door-to-door salesmen. While they may smile and share a cup of coffee with you, their goal is to get you to buy what they are selling. You, the target, are just a means to an end. The vacuum cleaner salesman hopes you will give him your money in return for a grossly overpriced sweeper. The Jesus salesman hopes you will surrender your reason and personal autonomy in return for the forgiveness of sins and an eternal home in a celestial Heaven no one has ever seen. Worse yet, the Jesus salesman wants you to come to the home office where he learned the tricks of his trade. Doing so will require your time and money, but just remember all the perks that come with buying Jesus.
Cameron Cole, the Director of Youth Ministries at the Cathedral Church of the Advent and the founding chairman of Rooted Ministry, thinks that the current Coronavirus pandemic is ” the ministry opportunity of this century.” Cole, an Episcopalian, is surprisingly quite Evangelical theologically, and his approach towards preying on non-Christians, especially teenagers, is no different from what is found in conservative Baptist churches.
Thousands of people are suffering, sick, and dying. Many people are facing financial straits and dire situations. In no way should we overlook what a catastrophe the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes for countless people around the world.
I have been in youth ministry professionally for fifteen years and another five as a volunteer before that; in other words, for this whole, young century. I want to tell everyone who ministers to young people — youth pastor and parent alike — this is the ministry opportunity of this century.
Biblical Christianity is the only worldview with sufficient, helpful answers to these incredibly difficult questions. Frequent will be the opportunities for kids to express doubts and to lament. Often will be the chances to offer answers or to simply lament with a child (and leave the theology for another time). Parents and youth pastors have an opportunity to enter into these hard questions with teenagers and offer hopeful truths or to just wrestle along with them.
Still, very few young people think they are actually ever going to die. Their mortality generally never crosses their minds. This global pandemic does cause them to consider their death and their standing before God. They may genuinely experience fear of death in these moments. Now is an opportunity to offer them the great comfort that Christ’s life, death, and resurrection means there is no fear in death for the believer.
As I said to start this article, we never want to think about the suffering and tragedy of others as an opportunity to capitalize on. What I do want to convey is that this challenging time offers a rich, unique, and temporary opportunity to minister to kids in a way that could change their lives forever.
Cole wants Christian readers to know that God has given them a golden opportunity to bushwack unsuspecting people who are sick and dying from the COVID-19 virus. People rightly fear dying from the virus — I know I do, to some degree — and Cole sees this as a vulnerability that can be exploited — in Jesus’ name, of course. You see, Cole and others like him think they KNOW what non-Christians need. Regardless of the circumstance or problem, the solution is always the same: Jesus.
Cole recognizes that his post makes him seem predatory and indifferent towards the sick and dying. Too bad he didn’t ponder that for a moment and then stop writing. But, he didn’t, there are souls that need saving, and it’s up to God’s chosen ones to harass, bug, and irritate them into saving faith.
The Coronavirus pandemic presents Christians with all sorts of opportunities to “let their little light shine” so the unsaved people of the world can see their good works and perhaps give glory to God as a result. Instead, Cole gives lip service to the plight of the sick and dying and instead focuses on rescuing people from eternal damnation.
Let me conclude this post by giving careful consideration to Cole’s last paragraph:
We never want to think about the suffering and tragedy of others as an opportunity to capitalize on. What I do want to convey is that this challenging time offers a rich, unique, and temporary opportunity to minister to kids in a way that could change their lives forever.
Cole says, ” We never want to think about the suffering and tragedy of others as an opportunity to capitalize on.” Good idea. Be better than most Evangelical Christians and just be a decent human being. If people want to know about your Jesus, salvation, or church, they will ask; but if they don’t ask, be content to let your “good works shine before men.” Cole doesn’t mention doing works of mercy for virus sufferers. He doesn’t mention any of a number of things he and other Christians could be doing for those suffering the effects of the Coronavirus, or for those in social isolation right now. Instead, his focus is on “eternal” matters. He’s more concerned with the “rich, unique, and temporary opportunity to minister to kids in a way that could change their lives forever” than he is wading in the gutter of human suffering.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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