The 75 percent

November 4, 2011

I’ve been thinking, writing, reading, and even preaching about evangelism recently. I’m not sure what’s gotten into me. I hope the Holy Spirit! But I feel convicted about it. I feel convicted that I’m not doing enough in the area of faith-sharing. I feel convicted that I’m not providing enough leadership in the area of evangelism for my parishioners.

One impetus for this conviction, I’m sure, is some demographic information that Larisa, my fellow associate pastor, shared in staff meeting recently. The data showed that fully 75 percent of people living within a 10-mile radius of our church do not attend any religious services. So without even needing to get into difficult questions about proselytizing people of other religions (like, for example, how do we reach the relatively large Hindu population surrounding our church?), the fields are “white already to harvest.”

So our work is cut out for us. What will we do about it? And will we do it with a sense of urgency, eagerness, and enthusiasm?

I’m preaching this week on Matthew 22:1-14, the Parable of the Wedding Banquet. This is another discomforting parable about the expansiveness of God’s grace, to be sure, but also the judgment that we all face for our efforts on behalf of God’s kingdom. Consider the urgency with which the servants in this parable went about their task of inviting. How do we measure up?

With all this in mind, consider this Facebook post from a United Methodist pastor friend of mine. What do you make of it? Do you agree with it? Does it bother you? Why or why not?

5 Responses to “The 75 percent”

  1. elainedaniel Says:

    I like where you are going with sharing the gospel right here at home. I hope you do have that class to help us learn how to better share the gospel with others and hope you’ll include me.

  2. elainedaniel Says:

    Oh yeah….how ’bout them Jackets??? Hope they finish strong and play Clemson for the ACC title.

    • brentwhite Says:

      Absolutely! I confess I wasn’t feeling confident after those first two series of downs when they went 3-and-out. I thought, “Have we not learned anything?” And then it was like a lightbulb went on or something. Maybe that bodes well for the rest of the season.

  3. Tom Harkins Says:

    Brent, I am sure none of us is fully living up to our obligations as to evangelism (Paul said to pray for me to be bold to preach, as I ought to be). Jesus also said to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers. However, at the same time I think there is at least a possible cautionary note of “balance.” When Paul was on his missionary journey, twice he was “disallowed” to go to certain places by the Spirit. Only after his dream did he conclude that God wanted him to go into Macedonia. I don’t think that means the Spirit was unconcerned about potential converts in the other areas; instead, that perhaps “the time was not right” at that point, whereas it was somewhere else. So I don’t think it is necessarily a good idea for us to just rush out telling everyone we see about Jesus–sometimes that may do more harm than good (as I believe to be the case in some of my own past efforts). I do think the issue is one that should be addressed in urgent prayer, openness to God’s leading, and planning. Jesus said to pray for GOD to send laborers. Also, “how shall they go, except they be sent?” And it was due to prayer and fasting in Antioch that the Spirit said, “Separate unto me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have for them.” So, for my two cents worth, prayer is the number one item on the agenda; then, likely, making “reasonable” plans for action (as I assume Pau was doing when he sought to go in the first two places), and make such efforts as we then feel “right” about.

    Finally, I don’t think all of the “reluctance” to witness necessarily comes to us from the devil–I think God sometimes uses that as a “caution,” perhaps somewhat like the Spirit did with Paul, but not as “overt” as the Spirit seemed to do back then as opposed to today (from my experience anyway).

    Well, perhaps those thoughts may be of some assistance (or not).

    Tom

    • brentwhite Says:

      I agree, Tom—as you say, “urgent prayer, openness to God’s leading, and planning.” In my experience and in my context, I just believe we could be more deliberate about those things.

      BTW, I also have some of those embarrassing early episodes of trying to witness and going about it the wrong way!


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