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This reflection on evangelization is for everyone! Check out the Lutheran Hispanic Missionary Institute.

“I See Dead People” 

Are lost people really lost?

In the movie The Sixth Sense, Dr. Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist played by Bruce Willis, works with an eight-year-old patient called Cole Sear, played by Haley Joel Osment. While it is not my purpose here to ruin the movie for you if you’ve not seen it, the character Cole Sear has the ability to see dead people walking around just like regular people. The line he uses with Dr. Crowe to inform him of this ability has become something of a classic, “I see dead people”.

While I was attending seminary, I had a missiology professor who gave an interesting writing assignment. It was simply this, “Are lost people really lost”. While I had to do a lot of research for the paper, and read a lot of Scripture, I affirmed the position I started with, yes, they are. If a person has not received grace, through Christ, then they are lost. Or another way of saying it might be that they’re walking around dead.

I recently asked the same question to a group of Christians and got mostly the same answer. However, there were a few that just could not accept the concept of hell and there were a number who believe there were many ways to get to heaven. Virtually all of them were willing to extend undeserved credit to the “good” people, while extending no mercy at all to “bad” people. In other words, they saw very few, if any, dead people.

If there is any consistent trend that I have noticed over the 30+ years of my ministry, it is that the longer people are Christians, and the longer churches exist, the less likely it is that they will have strong connections with the unchurched community around them. They simply stop seeing dead people. Before you quickly disagree with me, take a moment and list all of the people you know. Now, indicate which ones you know to be Christians and which ones you know who are not. How many are on the second list? Any at all?

This summer I have attended five district conventions for the LCMS. During one of the conventions I heard a report that the district had experienced one adult baptism for every 30 churches in the district. Of course, this does not include the children, but can it be said that these churches are seeing the dead people in their community?

New Christians win people to Christ faster than older Christians. New churches win people to Christ faster than older churches. These two truths underscore the need for adult baptisms and new church planting. And they should also send the message to older Christians and older churches that they need a strong renewal of their vision. Each Christian needs to be able to say, “I see dead people”, and of course, to want to bring them once again to the land of the living. If we truly have the heart of Christ, then we should weep when he wept.

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