As a missionary and as a teacher working with Filipino missionaries I have spent a lot of time thinking about motives for missions.
While thinking about the "invite" value that we have pushed at WW for a long time and our current need to grow I believe this is a good conversation.
When I step back and try to look at the big picture the conclusion I come to is: The most important reason to introduce someone to Jesus Christ is to satisfy God's desire. Because He is the Creator, His desires are far more significant than our needs. We love Him, and bringing Him pleasure is the greatest good we can do.
While I believe this is true I don't believe that it would be valuable to try to make the point to someone who has no relationship to the Lord. They would have no basis to value His desire. Until a person is "in Christ" the notion that God is seeking a relationship is an inviting sentiment but not a compelling motivation.
We make the appeal of the gospel based on self interest. Improvement of our life situation, rescue from eternal condemnation, personal peace, peace with God, restoration of interpersonal or family relationships are some of the appeals that I have heard. I think the scripture demonstrates and authorizes some of these. We select the appeal based on cultural and personal considerations.
I have seen Christians motivated to share Christ by guilt and shame, compassion on the lost, and personal ambition. Phil. 1:18 indicates that Paul was not too disturbed by bad motives but more concerned with "Christ being preached". However in this over-marketed consumer culture, North Americans are sensitive and suspicious of the motives behind the message. Therefore we need to be sensitive to how we encourage folks to share and reach out. My suspicion is that sincere love for God and sincere love for people will eventually be the only thing that is effective.
It has been a good week thinking about these things. I hope it is can be of some value to you. It is a privilege to set under your teaching. I appreciate not only the skill of your presentation but also the maturity and wisdom in what you have selected to teach.
Because HE lives,