Motivation Disintegration

There’s not usually time at the Bible study to think much about it, but I often wonder about the students’ motive for coming. Well, not so much “wonder” as “worry.” A Christian guy that comes to our study sometimes has told me before, “They’re all just coming for English. If you change it to Chinese, they’ll all leave.” So, yeah I worried… But here’s some balancing reason.

Reason not to worry: We’ve only had all-in-Chinese activities twice. And both times we had a record attendance. It seems that English is actually holding back our growth a little bit. When we announce that something’s happening in Chinese, it gives some people a reason to come that before felt out of place. Turns out some people don’t come because it’s in English. Looking forward to changing that.

Reason not to worry: People with wrong motivations attending your events is hardly abnormal. There was this teacher named Jesus who had people following Him because He gave out a free meal. Of course, that’s not to say that it’s okay for us to intentionally lure people with wrong motivations. Jesus verbally smashed the crowd into disciple-sized pieces. You’ll never believe it, but I’ve been to churches that people attended because they wanted people to think they’re religious, because they wanted to meet girls, because their parents went to that church, or even because they liked the music.

Reason not to worry: I know of way more reasons they come besides the English part. I’ve had students personally tell me that they come because they want to more about the Bible, because it’s a good place to make friends, because they like the atmosphere, etc. I’ve seen people meet each other at the Bible study and leave to go on a date afterwards! I should charge money for that! The truth is, we’ve been blessed with a great place to meet that students enjoy coming to. We’ve almost got our own square on the city’s student life map, and I’m hoping we can slap a hotel on it! (second Monopoly reference in as many weeks may be overdoing it) They come for a hundred different reasons, not just one big, messed up reason.

Reason not to worry: The English is getting less all the time. There’s still plenty if you’re just interested in learning some vocabulary. That’s not why this makes the “reason not to worry list.” The point is, that while the English goes down, the Chinese goes up. Which means their comprehension of the point of the lesson is growing. Which means a lot of people get offended, disagree, or don’t care and don’t come back. I know that “English Bible study” paints a certain picture. I really think that the only way to know that what we do isn’t that is to see it for yourself. But students absolutely are understanding what’s going on, and a good number are returning.

Reason not to worry: Jesus is a great motivation-changer. I’m sure you won’t believe this, but I actually went to church for many years for the wrong reasons. I went because my parents made me. And sometimes I still go for the wrong reasons! We have to invite like crazy, pray like crazy, preach like crazy, disciple like crazy, and let God deal with motivations. I think our leaders meeting is full of students that came for some time just for English, or just to make friends, or just for something to do – but Jesus changed their heart. That’s one of the most amazingly exciting things I can think of!

So there are some reasons not to chew off my fingers worrying. But I probably will anyway. Only someone with as much faith as I have can do that! May God let our church be a place where His Spirit has free reign to shipwreck the hearts of students and point them to a life-changing Savior.

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