Polls are a good thing, you know, keeping us abreast of current issues and how they play out in day-to-day life. Polls also contribute to monitoring the effort of where we are going as the church. Let me share with you how we are doing so far as sending out Harvest workers from among those pursuing ministry opportunities among a specified demographic of young people here in the USA.
Exit polls among Bible colleges and seminary students tell us that some 70,000 seriously-minded young people are currently studying the Bible with the intent of entering some type of ministry opportunity. That’s good! …But those statistics also disclose some other details we must consider.
Statistically, only 5% …or 3,500 of the 70,000 bible students are planning to pursue missions while 95% …or 66,500 of the 70,000 students plan to enter the ministry/marketplace here in North America. That’s jarring when you consider that only 4.4% of the world’s 7.1 billion people live in North America.
That means 66,500 Christian workers will remain here and minister to needs in North America among 312 million people who have access to Bibles, churches and Christian witness while the 3,500 students planning to serve in missions will go out among 95.6% of the world’s population… or 6.7 billion people among whom there is still 3.1 billion people who never heard of Jesus. That’s enough to knock the wind out of your sails and yet we are seeing a great harvest for the gospel among the nations in spite of the lack of laborers.
Most churches support missions while the number of churches who equip and send their own people to serve is much fewer. The focus has shifted from reaching those in unreached areas of the world to those who feel the need is greater in the homeland by expanding facilities and adding programs to reach people here.
You don’t get larger families by adding rooms to your house or having more game nights. No, you get down to the work of producing children and then sustaining them. The same is true in growing a church and reaching the Nations. –You bring people into a comprehensible understanding of the gospel, then invest your time to disciple them.
Some years ago while serving an internship in a church we were asked what could be done to stimulate growth. Our answer was simple; implement evangelism and discipleship in the church. –At the onset our answer was met with sharp criticism but by summers’ end we had demonstrated the effects of active witness and discipleship, compared to the addition of more space and programs in the church, which eventually dwindled in disinterest.
Sure the church added numbers to its attendance by programs and satellite classrooms but that’s where it stopped. There were plenty of people plugged into programs that eventually fell short of producing disciples, whereas, our evangelism and discipleship efforts brought people to Christ and then rooted them in the scriptures for the journey ahead. Not only did we equip them for the journey, we also taught them the necessity of ‘each one reaching one’ in the strategy of growing the church. Thus, steady growth ensued. Although comparatively smaller in number at the onset, the effectiveness of making disciples far outweighed the product of programs in just a short time.
Case in point: Can we not do the same in growing the church today and then going a step beyond to produce a generation of Christians who will sense the urgency of reaching those who’ve never had opportunity to hear of Jesus, rather than encouraging our young to pursue personal ambitions and careers that contribute little to no effect in the harvest of lost souls? Golly, that sounds so radical!
…But remember, the early church was radical in their efforts to reach the lost. Matter of fact, they were so radical in sharing their faith that they were blamed for turning the world upside-down. Indeed, our world today is very upside-down, turned around, and headed in the opposite direction of where we should be going. People are moving further away from the moral compass of godly living in trade for counterfeit gods and discounting God’s truth as Paul stated so clearly in Romans 1:25… “they exchanged the truth about God for a lie.” Perhaps it’s
time for radical change.
My question is “How will we ever turn the tide in flipping the numbers of those stepping out to serve in missions –in unreached areas of the world where the gospel has not been proclaimed, if we do not make the gospel and discipleship our primary effort? How do we get some of the 66,500 individuals who want to serve ‘here’ interested in going where people don’t know there is a Jesus to believe in? …And what are we doing as the people of God to instill within our young the urgency to declare Christ among the Nations?”
The solution to turning the tide is to pray. Jesus said so himself. …But it will also require us to actively engage the Body of Christ with the mindset that the proclamation of the gospel is our primary task, then discipleship. If these things are important to us in the growth of the church, then we must do our utmost to teach and equip the Body to finish the task.
I ask myself, “Who in the pews are we praying onto the Harvest fields of the world?” Moreover, what are we doing to bring believers face-to-face with the mandate Jesus gave to us in making disciples among those still unreached with the gospel? I find it deeply troubling that we flounder with His command. “…But I haven’t been called, ”some will say. Well, if you look at scripture our call is to salvation whereas discipleship is commanded of all who believe.
I said all of this to say that many of you may never go to the regions beyond …and that’s understandable. But surely each one of us can be involved in pointing someone to Christ. We can all be involved in discipling someone; and then, in a harmonic effort, we can pray that some will ‘go.’
Quite honestly I am glad the elections are over and that we aren’t being bombarded with those disturbing polls. But sure as the day is long, polls will resurface once again. I’m praying that the polls amongst the unreached peoples of the world will soon portray to us that more people are going, more people are praying, and more churches are sending.
Hey, maybe I should take a poll to get some feedback on the impact of this writing. Nevertheless, thanks for your patience in reading what’s been upon my heart. …And thanks for being involved in this great task. Your participation through prayer and practical support allows us to continue doing the work the Lord has given us to do.