Conquering the fear of proclaiming the gospel in wealthy neighborhoods
“I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.” (Psalm 138:1)
It was a beautiful neighborhood.
Nice cars were parked in the driveway. Trimmed bushes, manicured lawns, and every entryway to the front door provided a unique display of decorate wall hangings, pottery, wind chimes, or floral wreaths. The families in this neighborhood were successful.
And I was going to knock on their door to introduce them to Jesus Christ through the power of His Word.
I confess that I was a little wary. I admit that I was a little intimidated entering nice neighborhoods with beautiful homes to proclaim the gospel. I know that I am bringing a message of foolishness. It felt like being an ambassador from a small army coming up to a strong castle with fortified walls. I was not coming to ask for help, but offering them terms of surrender. Nobody likes to be laughed at. And for families that appear to have everything, I am representing an offer that has little value.
How do I conquer these fears?
With Praise and Proclaim Ministries, I am blessed with the opportunity to lead outreach campaigns across the U.S. Each neighborhood that we help churches target is unique. But I must confess that I feel the most uncomfortable knocking on the doors of large, beautiful homes. The people I meet in these neighborhoods are polite, but largely disinterested in what I have to say. They will usually cut me off soon after I tell them that I am with a local congregation.
It is my experience that the nicest homes are the least likely to be responsive to a gospel message.
I would much rather go door-to-door talking with Hindus from India living in east Seattle rather than the wealthy executives living in west Houston.
I would much rather go door-to-door talking with people who live in olders suburbs built in the 1950’s rather than executive mansions built on top of bluffs.
When a person is comfortable and feel secure in this world – and are enjoying the fruits of their success – they are largely disinterested to hear what Christ has already done for them. They are busy following the other “gods” of this world.
I am reminded of the parable of the Phoenician woman who approached Jesus. She was not the target audience. But she saw Jesus for who He really is – and asked for the breadcrumbs that fell on the floor. And Jesus recognizes this woman for her great faith.
Comfortable people are not looking for breadcrumbs.
It’s no wonder that Jesus told his disciples how difficult it is for rich people to receive faith. Yet, it’s interesting how churches are attracted to reach out to them. They don’t appear messy. They don’t seem like they are going to present problems or be labeled as “high maintenance”. Instead, they bring potential wealth, leadership, and an air of importance. They are attractive people.
The most difficult culture group to reach the gospel is not based on skin color or foreign tongues, but people who have achieved worldly success and wealth.
Though uncomfortable and wrestling with the fear of appearing foolish, I ring the grand doorbell of a beautiful home anyway. I focus on praising God’s name rather than expecting a disinterested response. Christ died for them, too. Through the lens of the gospel, I see a beautiful home turn into a temple when rejected at their doorstep. They are confessing faith in the other gods of this world – namely, confessing faith in themselves.
I pray, “Grant me courage, Lord, embolden me when I proclaim your name before the “gods” of this world – with those who have been exalted with worldly fame and wealth. They need You too, Lord. Cause me to swallow my pride, Lord, and let go of appearing foolish. This is not about me, but proclaiming Your presence through Your Word. I call out to you, Lord, trusting that You will answer me. Amen.”
I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame. When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.” (Psalm 138:2,3)