How to Make a Missionary3-The Friend Bait-and-Switch

My wife and I never set out to be missionaries in a foreign land. Heck, we never even knew missionaries existed until we were teenagers. We discovered the likes of David Livingstone and Jim Elliot whenever some volunteer youth worker would share their stories during the youth service. I was a full-fledged “Big Church” attender (adult) when I understood that there were still missionaries in the field spreading the gospel.

What we heard more often than not was that we needed to pray for the people in these far-away lands and we needed to fill the pews with our friends. We took that to heart. It was serious business. We thought of nearly every way possible to secure a confirmation for a visit to our Sunday morning Jesus-fest from our unrepentant pals. The problem was that we didn’t have that many non-Christian acquaintances. We needed sinners.

Being that we didn’t have a Sin Mart nearby and the Sinners-R-Us hadn’t opened yet, we sifted through our past. We started remanufacturing relationships with old high school buddies or reconnecting with that scout troop from days gone by. The best contacts were the people who were new to us, folks we had never met before. They weren’t wise to our agenda of love. We really felt like we were making some ground for God’s cause with these unsuspecting targets.

I remember one conversation we had in our house during this time. We had a friend-of-a-friend over for several hours just hanging out, talking and snacking. It was a Saturday afternoon and our mark had just announced that he needed to leave. Not wanting to miss this prime opportunity, Christie, my wife, asked if he would like to go to church with us in the morning.

The guest’s answer: “I’m not really into organized religion.”

Without missing a beat, Christie replied, “Then you’ll love our church. We hardly ever start on time, we change the order of service on the fly, and we sing off-key, but it’s ok because the piano is a little out of tune.  There’s nothing organized about us!”


He was caught in “no man’s land” like a squirrel crossing the street in traffic. Our prey couldn’t possibly have anticipated that answer. He bobbed left, then right, and then left again. Eventually, I think he did attend a service or two, although I don’t remember him deciding to follow Christ. Huh.

By God’s grace and the prayers of our unrepentant friends we learned to be a little more tactful with our friendship evangelism. We began to use love and service to others as a start. With the guidance of verses like

1 Thessalonians 2:8 …  so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

We changed the way we approached people in general and in turn God gave us great friends. It turns out people are people and not cattle to be counted then put in the barn. We opened our home and young adults began to come. Some were Christian and some not; some changed and some didn’t but they were our friends none the less. We stepped back and realized that Christ didn’t bait-and-switch the people He engaged in the Bible. He just baited them, with love.

You ever pull a Christian fast one on some friends?

How To Make A Missionary Series

13 thoughts on “How to Make a Missionary3-The Friend Bait-and-Switch

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  1. The ol bait and switch, eh? Not sure that I ever did. I think I was more guilty of never sharing at all. From one extreme to the other, I suppose. Glad God works on us from all angles!


  2. kenny; I remember when i was about 13,we went to a church of GOD in fayetteville n.c. our pastor was Beauford Edwards,Every sunday night service,he would have an alter call,And he would go into the audiance and go from one person to anouther and put a guilt trip on the peoples,IT was a very uncomfortable feeling,some would go to the alter just to avoid the confrontation with brother edwards,of which i loved dearly,those that went that way,they were not cencere,and they were at the alter most every sunday until he had created a group of hipocrets,to faces,and double life folks,they were good people,but had found a way to avoid,the guilt trip put on them by the preacher,but as the saying go;s you can lead the sheep to the creak but you can not make them drink, I myself i too went to the alter,I was cencere,i ask my loard to forgive my sins and he did,But it wasn;t because of brother edwards coming to my seat,that night , it was he did not,at thatpoint in my life i thought,well brother edwards has give up on me,i may never get anouther chance,and true you never know when you may never get that chance again,I wonder if brother edwards had figured me out,and had finally found out the way to reach my heart? But it is difficult to reach the heart and souls of a sinner, and i must say brother edwards,tried his very best,and has a special place in my heart,and always will, [ HE NEVER,NEVER,NEVER,GAVE UP]


  3. Classic bait and switch line by your wife- good stuff 🙂
    I’m bookmarking this Thessalonians verse- not one I was all that familiar with before now. I love your heart, and hearing how your lives are evangelistic, not just your words. I think this “friendship evangelism” is a lot more Christ-like than some “tactics” we believers often use.


    1. Thanks for the kind words. Earning the right and privilege to speak into peoples lives to me seems way more effective and long lasting. Not to mention, if they don’t follow Christ (sad) you still have a friend.


      1. Amen. It’s awesome to see Believers who are wanting to truly make disciples, and to walk alongside those they are discipling throughout the entire process. Right on, my new friend. (PS- I’ve seen you comment on Acuff’s stuff and some other sites and have always had instant respect for your righteous facial hair. Keep it up.)


  4. Good, wise woods. This resonates so strongly with me. People don’t want to be just another notch on our salvation belts–they want to be people. And be treated as such. Else wise, we could just open “Sav-O-Matics” and never have to worry about the messy business of relationships. But I don’t God would like that. Because life is messy, and people are weird, and Christians just need to be real.

    Thanks for dropping by my Internet house o’random today.


  5. Look no further, your sinner is right here! This is a really great post. I’m thankful that there are people like yourself that are willing to accept that people are people, despite differences in theologies. I never anticipated on ever attempting to read the bible.. ever.. but I met some really great people that have accepted me for who I am no matter what. It is through their friendship that has encouraged me to actually give it a shot and maybe see where this road takes me. Great blog.


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