As I think about Luke 10:2 and the plentiful ripe harvest described, I am struck with a truth often overlooked in today’s church world. The truth is this…. The harvest is in the field not in the barn.
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few, ask the Lord of the harvest therefore to send OUT workers into his harvest field. GO! I AM SENDING YOU OUT like lambs among wolves.” Luke 10:2-3
In Mark 4 “A farmer went OUT to sow his seed…” I wonder, are we spending a little too much time trying to harvest the harvested? Are we spending a little too much time in the barn and not enough time in the field.
I asked this question at a semenar I was doing recently and the response I receieved when I talked about spending time building relationships with those in the “world” around us, not as projects but in caring relationships, didn’t surprise me. The response was from scripture and creates a tension in the church world. Can you guess what the passage of scripture was?
1 Cor. 15:33 —- “Don’t be misled… Bad company corrupts good character.”
So now what do we? There is no shortage of scriptures that call us “out” and no shortage of scriptures that call us “out”. We are to come out and we are to go out at the same time… Feel the tension yet?
I have been wondering a lot about the mission of the church and how often I read about reaching the Unchurched. Is it our mission to “church” the “unchurched”? somehow I think we have come to believe that we have reached our goal if the unchurched cross the thresholds and sit in our sanctuaries. We are rewarded for butts in pews and bucks in plates. We have not so subtly created a culture where if your butt is in a pew and your buck is in a plate on Sunday morning we are not to concerned with where you were Saturday night. We wrongly assume that all is well because of where you sit on Sunday morning. The more we reward butts in pews and bucks in plates the more we move away from our mission as the people of God the “Church”.
We have been called to go and make disciples not church the unchurched. Unless however we redefine what we mean by “unchurched”. When we use this word we tend to define it by those who “don’t attend a church on a regular basis”. This definition leads us to try and get them to our buildings. Another definition for us think about is the church as a people verses a place. Now when we think of the “unchurched” we are talking about reaching people for the Kingdom not a location.
In fact when the “unchurched” are interviewd the discoveries in these interviews reveal that the “unchurched” are not looking for another club to attend but to be connected to authentic genuine people in community.
“But much of what the younger unchurched are looking for is found in the character of God and what our churches are called to be. Note that I said what our churches are called to be, not necessarily what they are.”
Would it change how we did ministry if we saw people as people not as butts in pews and bucks in plates? Would it change how we did ministry if the destination was changed from our facility to the Kingdom of God? Are we successful if the unchurched enter the church or are we more successful when the “church enters the unchurched”?
What if you were to reach people for Jesus and disciple them in community relationships but they never cross the doorstep of your church? Would you be ok with that? How would you feel about them? Would you consider them unchurched, unsaved, or even a lesser class of Christian?
Why Change? Why not just keep doing things like we have always done them?
Some thoughts on change…
Change: “When the winds of change blow hard enough, the most trivial of things can become deadly projectiles.” ~ poster at http://www.despair.com
Change: “The key to change is to let go of fear” ~ Rosanne Cash
Change: “Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.” ~ Anonymous
Change: “What do you fear, my lady?” … “A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them. and all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire.” ~Aragorn and Eowyn in “The Two Towers” Lord of the Rings.
“Our fear, like hers, should be that we would go through life and not make a difference, that we would be stuck, a captive for life in a safe but meaningless existence. There are many in the kingdom of God who feel like warriors trapped behind normalcy and the expectations of what has always been.” ~ Niel Cole, Organic Leadership
I love this last line – I believe there are warriors who have allowed their fears of the unknown to trap them in the comforts of the known and their warrior skills and abilities go wasted. And then there are many warriors who, because of their fear of going through life and not making a difference are stepping out and taking a risk for God. Stepping into the unknown and leaving a life of normalcy and what has always been and are using their God given skills to change the culture and world around them.
Which one are you? When the battle is over will you have hidden in the fox hole of meaningless existence or will you have been a warrior who’s life made a difference? When it is all said and done I want to have lived my life to the fullest and have made a difference.