Five practical lessons learnt from sharing the gospel with the wealthy
How often I have been met with amazement in church circles when explaining how spiritually hungry the wealthy are!
It is apparently often assumed that a successful job or social position equates to being a ‘go to’ person for all life’s questions. Yet all the evidence is that worldly success, however defined, doesn’t produce either a blessing of life’s answers nor a deep sense of satisfaction with one’s lot in life. Possessions and prestige simply do not generate lasting happiness – despite what the materialistic world trumpets!
In fact, the people I’ve met who seem the most ‘lost’ or lonely are often also the most wealthy. They may have worldly riches but spiritually exhibit bankruptcy. What’s worse, they know it, because money and status didn’t ‘achieve’ lasting satisfaction!
To the Christian, adopted into God’s family for eternity, as a Prince or a Princess in the kingdom of heaven (John 1:12) we know the joy of having a heavenly Father who looks after all our wealth – true riches for eternity, not mere burdensome scramblings that are destined to be left behind on our deathbeds! We know what it means to have a peace that passes all understanding, to live in the loving arms of our heavenly Father, a Spirit empowered living relationship with the one that carries our burdens. In short, we are truly wealthy with what actually matters and that means we have something that the world craves!
Excuse the lengthy introduction but grasping such truth should, I would suggest, give the Christian confidence for approaching those the world pretends are successful. After all, we walk hand-in-hand with the creator of the universe! In Him rests the answer to reaching out to all mankind, including those held in high worldly esteem. Which leads to the following, I hope, helpful lessons:
1. Don’t assume you know all that is going on
God knows – rarely us – what is going on behind the facade of someone’s life. I spend my time offering to share the Gospel of John with my contacts on a one-to-one basis (twenty-two at present) and I can assure you that I am nearly always wrong as to why someone agrees to meet with me. So, don’t be scared of offering or reaching out to those who the world says are used to ‘being in charge’. You just don’t know what might be going on behind what you or the world sees. And if God has prepared the way, your relationship with that person will happen!
2. Invest in personal relationships
In today’s world, where going to church is not the norm (in fact, it is quite often viewed as abnormal), looking into Christianity is both deeply personal and can quickly expose a complete lack of biblical knowledge. So, it’s understandable that offering to do so, by whatever means, needs to be through a personal relationship. Now that doesn’t mean that one must build a long-term connection with someone before offering, I have found that absolutely not to be the case, but it does mean a serious investment in giving the person time.
That is where I have found using The Word One to One (which allows you to travel through the Gospel of John with your non-Christian friend) to have been a marvellous means of going jointly on a journey, building a trusted, caring relationship. A relationship that develops from a journey shared and that doesn’t necessarily need to be in place before the journey begins!
3. Respect the restrictions of the life they lead
For so many who are wealthy or privileged the world watches them – or, at least, they may feel a pressure from a wider audience watching what they do; the causes they support; effectively what they endorse. So, we need to respect their privacy, which means that their coming to an event that we might think quite normal, or attending a small group, can in fact be a difficult step to take.
It might be better to prayerfully consider who they would naturally find warm and interesting and arrange a meeting in a setting that they are more used to. In my life that means spending money on lunch and dinner invitations, and time invested in smaller groupings; getting to know wives and loved ones; giving books that introduce Christian biographies and great speakers, rather than just inviting people to large public events. In short, being personable and doing things that are small is often better than trying to instantly get someone comfortable in a Christian ‘world’ that we are comfortable in but is entirely alien and exposing to them!
4. The convicting power of prayer
I have had to learn to pray that my contacts become convicted of their sins. What do I mean? All too often I have had a wealthy person tell me that they have decided to tell their friends they now believe in God! It’s as if they are doing poor old god (note the little ‘g’) a big favour … ‘Don’t worry – we now believe you exist and so will endorse you!’
No! Rather, they need to be driven to their knees at the foot of the cross, struck by the realisation that the creator of the entire universe has carried a cost they could not pay. He has made them right with the all-powerful, all-knowing God of all things, who has washed them clean and given them an eternity as members of His royal family. Now, in that realisation is true humility and true repentance. So, we need to ask for the humbling conviction of a need for forgiveness and cleansing. All have sinned. Not one is righteous. All need the Saviour!
5. It’s not about the world’s currency – we live in God’s joy!
I once met a multi billionaire who had boldly told the minister of the church he and his wife had recently started attending that he was now ready to discuss how much he was going to give to the church. Instantly the minister turned on him, roundly stating that this man had nothing that either he or the church needed! Result? The multi billionaire began to cry – gone was his ‘currency’ of importance!
It wasn’t that the church didn’t badly need a major extension. It was that you cannot out-give God! Do we seriously think that God is pacing up and down in heaven thinking that He needs more billionaires converted in order to pay for the church? No, we all give in joy … as if we have been sold a share in what the Lord is already doing. What a joy and privilege to get to take part in what is the Lord’s ministry.
So, when it comes to money, I am very cautious in raising the needs of the church before someone is saved and ready and willing to be a joyful giver in what they see the Lord is up to. The world writes to them constantly begging or attempting to impose guilt. Much better to wait until the Lord has touched their heart so that they see how they might have the joy of being linked to what He is doing!
Well, I hope this has helped. The lesson is simple: the world might think someone should be held aloft as being successful, sorted, a winner, but in Christ they desperately need what all brothers and sisters in the Lord need – to be wrapped in the loving arms of a forgiving, loving Saviour.
So don’t write them off as unreachable. Rather, prayerfully seek to invest in exposing them to the gospel. God will do the rest. After all it is His ministry!