Something Has to Change

The Great Commission order from the Risen Savior’s mouth was first to reach Judea, then Samaria, and then on to the Ends of the Earth. But the ends of the earth, 2,000 years later, still rolls on without what it needs in order to believe… The Gospel, delivered.

Here’s a crazy tweet from the United States Center for World Missions:

“American Christians spend 95% of offerings on home-based efforts, 4.5% on cross-cultural efforts to reached people and .5% to the unreached.” –@USCWM

I was shocked too. I’m sure there are some great reasons that churches back at home are spending so much money on their US-based efforts, but 95% is pretty drastic.

Imagine a stone dropped into still water, creating ripples that move further and further out: this is how the church is supposed to move the Gospel throughout the world.

America has hundreds of decent translations, hundreds of thousands of pastors serving, and even thousands more waiting in the wings. These can be very exciting trends… to a point. If Gospel-spreading experiences a kink and really slows (which ‘the numbers’ seem to indicate has been happening in America for a few decades now…)

So much water, but it’s not going where there’s total spiritual drought.

I wonder if new ‘up-and-coming pastors’ are choosing to be disciples of Big-Name-Pastor X, instead of the Jesus of their Bible, who called his disciples to do things like “die” and “take up your cross.”

What would happen… if one Big-Name-Pastor X just packed it all up? What if he headed off to Papua New Guinea, and handed the pulpit (and maybe some celebrity) off to one of his elders? Surely a church of 5,000+ has some capable teahcers, right? In fact, if he’s a real pastor, he’d have done the work of a shepherd, and trained up plenty of people to take his place.

Wouldn’t an example like that create a stir, and mobilize even more people than writing books and hosting conferences? And at what cost? Worth it? You tell me.

State of the Union?

A few years ago, a relative’s church formed a search committee to find a new pastor to shepherd their flock. The amount of applications they received was staggering: over 200. Meanwhile, within my organization last year, about 120 people attended Jungle training at the Missionary Training Center. Only 1/2 of those made it to the field.

These disturbing stats also indicate something more subtle. I believe there is a lie propagating that tells us that if we just get ‘famous enough,’ or sell ‘enough books’… all those unreached people groups will just get reached through my ministry somehow. But this is just not happening. We need to quit buying the lie that so many are selling (some, even knowingly selling it). We are all responsible to see the commission through, so when did getting more people into church, or selling books, or making best-seller lists become more important than our first priority?

While spending upwards of $200,000 to dishonestly get your book onto the NY Times Best Seller List may not technically be a crime, what compels us to spend the cash on that, instead of on people who haven’t heard the Gospel, and have no access to it in their heart language?

Our seminary students… tomorrow’s pastors and church leaders… are being fed the wrong example. Success in ministry cannot be gagued principally by the numbers; There is no metric for faithfulness.

I don’t have the answers, but something is wrong.

I’ve heard all the excuses, but celebrity pastors have helped shape a culture that ignores the unreached, giving precedence to other things. I’m convinced that we as Americans have made a habit of chosing good things over best things, and to the detriment of real orphans and widows living without hope. Please pray with me that the next generation of pastors will rise against the enemy’s clever plans to keep the perfect Word of God out of people’s grasp, the places with no Gospel-access are definitely still waiting. I praise God it’s not too late to reverse the trend, but I fear such a day may truly be coming.

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