I’m not an evangelist or a pastor. I’m not even a Bible teacher or a youth minister. I’m a filmmaker, attempting to do the near-impossible for my films. I attempt to visibly film an invisible God.
Having traveled the world to make my first three feature films, Finger of God, Furious Love and Father of Lights, it’s probably safe to say that the last six years have given me a new perspective and quite an education on what God is doing around the world, as well as which evangelism methods are working, and which ones are seemingly slogging through quicksand.
The politically correct statement here would be to say that as long as those trying to evangelize are preaching the basics of the gospel, then we should just be happy, no matter their methods. But I can’t help but wonder if one form of evangelism is more effective than another.
I suppose the question we must first answer is: What exactly are you hoping to accomplish in your evangelism? For most of my life, the goal was always to lead someone to salvation—in essence, to get them to sign on the dotted line. Your ability to either get a lot of people or a few to sign would ultimately determine whether you and your outreach were truly “effective.” But having been witness to some of the most incredible God moments ever caught on film for the past six years, I wonder if maybe our job isn’t to go out and create converts, but rather to be authentic dispensers of love.
Consider the Parable of the Sower. In Luke 8:5-8, Jesus tells the story of the sower, giving us an image of someone randomly spreading seed. Jesus then explains the parable, telling us that the seed is the Word of God. We, then, are the dispensers of that seed. What’s the best way to dispense that seed? Do we stand on a street corner and preach? Or do we simply do nice things for people, such as build houses? Do we try to talk people into accepting the seed intellectually? Do we prove God’s existence and love through signs and wonders and miracles? I contend that the path is not as important as the motive.
We are called to be sowers of the seed, not necessarily reapers. But it seems that the church as a whole is preoccupied with reaping a harvest, especially a harvest they many times have no intention of planting, tilling and fertilizing. We want the crop but without the mess of farming. Too often, when our motivation is for results, the evangelism becomes more for us than it does for the people to whom we’re witnessing.
When the motivation is love with no motive behind it, the results drastically change. If some of the seed is ready to be harvested, wonderful. If the seed is still blooming, great. If we’re simply planting on new soil, great. Our goal must never be to reap a harvest but instead to plant the Word of God.
No one wants to be someone’s project or goal. Everyone wants to be loved. As God’s agents here on earth, we’re called to love the one in front of us without an agenda. It is the greatest seed we will ever sow.
Darren Wilson is the founder of Wanderlust Productions and the creator of the film trilogy Father of Lights, Finger of God and Furious Love. He is currently Artist-in-Residence at Judson University, where he worked as a class professor before moving into film production full time.