In preaching through the book of Acts, I have been reminded and convicted of the fact that it is an admonition to our churches to be in an ongoing process of taking the Good News to people who are being prepared by God to hear it and many times to people who really don’t want to hear it. As I have written before, it is when we are truly making disciples and not simply converts of Christ that evangelism becomes a natural outgrowth of this transformation, i.e. people not being able to help but speak of the things they have seen and heard. But there is also an inherent danger within that process if we do not find ourselves actively modeling the first century church in their zeal to see Christ and Him crucified preached to the ends of the earth. So many of our churches, especially in the modernized west, have become maintenance minded instead of mission minded. We must guard against this tendency or we will find ourselves falling prey to the attitude that our Sunday gatherings, weekly Bible studies and even our ministry opportunities are simply a means to strengthen our personal walk, as important as that is, and miss that Christ’s last earthly admonition was to make disciples. The church at Antioch, in Acts 13 and 14, was sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and responsive to that prompting to assist in sending Paul and Barnabas on their first ‘mission’ trip. It seems that they did not even consider that their corporate gathering together for worship and teaching was simply for their own edification and growth but was a launching ground for growth of the church global. I recently read some startling facts about the growth of the global church. Out of the global increase of 77,000 affiliated Christians every day, 70,000 (or 91%) can be found in Africa, Asia, or Latin America. The country with the fastest Christian expansion ever is China, now at 16,500 new converts (including births) every day. This in a country which would know very little about simple maintenance but is persecuted for their evangelism regularly. Compare that with this statistic, that 91% of all Christian outreach/evangelism does not target non-Christians but targets other Christians, many in wealthy countries and cities. When we do ‘take it to the street’ we take it to the comfortable confines of the least resistance. One last observation from the report, and this is so sad, Christians spend more on the annual audits of their churches and agencies ($970 million) than on all their workers in the non-Christian world. We are more concerned with our daily administration of the organization than we are of the lost soul who has never heard the Gospel. Do not let it be said of our churches that our faith is a matter of convenience and it costs little but may we offer our worship and service as King David did when he said “I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” 1 Ch 21:24. May we find ourselves moving from a maintenance mentality of an organization to a constant expanding organism known as the body of Christ, reaching dieing people with the life saving news of His finished work of salvation. soli deo gloria Stats taken from the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, January 2008.
One of our members, Sharon Haag, is currently on a missions trip to New York City. She and her sister are serving through the NYC Ministries organization from July 18th thru 24th. Sharon is involved this week with street evangelism, prayer booths, and sharing the gospel through a ‘religious questionnaire’, literally ‘taking her faith to the streets’. What an honor for her and an encouragement to us to be involved in sharing and living our faith. One of the posts on their web site just quoted, ‘ministry is the person in front of you’. This should be the heart beat of each of us here in our local churches. May we be so gripped by the grace of our Lord which He has extended to us personally that we find ourselves compelled to speak of that which we have seen and heard. You can check out daily reports from the streets of New York by logging in to NYC Ministries.