A Call to all Ministry Leaders
Hi! I’m Mike and I direct a Christian ministry called One Eight Catalyst. We have been involved in rural Bible distribution and church building in China, as well as Theological training in rural China. Before those projects, we were doing International student ministry amongst Chinese International Students. I’ve been in full-time ministry since May 1994 and it’s just been the last three years that I’ve been migrating more toward our current mission statement, which reads, ‘We exist to create resources and deliver training that is a catalyst enabling every Christian to find Great Commission fulfillment.’ In that work, I spend a lot of time trying to educate the Western Church on the needs of the Global Lost, the 42% of the world’s population that is unreached and unengaged.
In my work, I see many of you trying to do the same thing, publishing stats and facts on social media about those without Christ and the incredible needs in the sphere of your ministry. Let me be one who says ‘Thank you!’ for your tireless work in your ministry. You are some of the ones going down the ropes into the ‘pits of hell,’ saving those who are lost. And I know that in order to do your work, you have developed a team of partners that is ‘holding the ropes’ as you go down. I’m so thankful for them too. But far too often as I see this activity going on around us, I wonder why so few are involved in reaching the global lost around the world. It seems like it’s a very small, yet dedicated group of us who are pointing to places where the name of Jesus has never once been uttered or the Bible has not yet been translated.
I’ve spent some time thinking and praying about the answer to that question. I think the honest truth is that they just don’t care. Today’s average congregation member is not thinking about the global lost and is not concerned that, according to my friends at Silk Road Catalyst, 47,000 people die every day beyond the reach of the Gospel. To you and I, we weep and our hearts break when we hear this. For me, it makes me want to do more and sacrifice more so that these people hear that Jesus loves them and that they have a free gift in Jesus. The recent statistics uphold my theory. Barna group published last year a study on the Western Church and the Great Commission. They found that 51% of Western Christians don’t know what the Great Commission is and another 25% have heard the term but don’t know what it means. That means that over 75% of Western Christians either don’t know what the Great Commission is or can’t recall what it is. And while the Barna study was correct to point out that the words ‘Great Commission’ aren’t in the Bible, the term is a popular catch word for Jesus command for all Christians to proclaim the Gospel, make disciples and be His witnesses. There are two reasons that 76% would not know about the Great Commission: First, our church leaders may not have much of a heart for the Great Commission themselves, and we all know that we will talk most about the things closest to us. Secondly, taking the lead from those who are supposed to be leading us spiritually, many Western Christians are not proclaiming the Gospel and making disciples themselves. Another recent study found that 47% of Millennial Christians feel that it is ‘wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will one day share the same faith.’
So as you are trying to promote the good work you’re doing in your ministry through newsletters, social media and blog posts, 75% of your intended audience does not have what it needs to engage with your message and almost 50% of the younger people you’d like to engage in your work think the evangelistic work you’re doing is wrong. So what is the answer to this major problem? The answer is a long one, so I’ll work on fleshing that out in future blog posts, but in short, it begins in our churches. If a church does not have a way to teach their people how to share their testimony and a simple Gospel presentation, they are falling short of what God would want for them. In addition, it starts with church training leading their people to truly become fully devoted followers of Jesus. My experience says that someone who is fully devoted to Jesus can’t help but want to fulfill the Great Commission. At One Eight Catalyst, our first foray in this area is a book I’ve written called What You Do Shows Who You Are: The 6 Marks of a Disciple of Jesus. It’ll be available next month and it’s our attempt to say, ‘Let’s take a step back and help people become a fully devoted follower of Jesus and as they become that disciple of Jesus, they will want to find ways to tell others, both at home and abroad, about Jesus.’ The next book resource that I’m working on now is a book on the 6 Marks of a Church that makes Disciples. It is when we have more disciples of Jesus in our Western Churches that the 75% number will decrease.
Might I make a suggestion for you as well? Pray through ways that you can add disciplemakers training into your ministry. More disciples of Jesus means more people interested in your cause. This might mean being a regular Sunday School Teacher in your church or always having two or three people your discipling and pouring your life in. Our Western Churches need us to re-engage in these ways like never before. And let’s begin a conversation amongst each other about how we can work together to raise the profile of both being a disciple of Jesus and the sweet adventure found in trusting God to use us as disciples to proclaim His name to every nook and cranny of our world. You in?