I have many friends in assemblies across Ontario and parts of the US. Many of them keep in touch with me regularly through email, text or the odd phone call/Skype. A topic of discussion that has come up recently is the number of people we are seeing saved in our assemblies in North America (and in the evangelical church in general). Usually, and I want to emphasize that it’s not always the case, the reports of how many are being saved are discouraging.
As I think of my assembly over the past 15 years we have seen maybe 10 saved from the community. This doesn’t include the children of the Christian families within the assembly of which we are so thankful. That number burdens my heart.
Other parts of the world
Reports from other countries in the world are not so dismal. Parts of South America, Asia and the Middle East are exploding with the gospel and many are being saved. New assemblies are starting up with several hundred in attendance. We praise the Lord for His work around the world!
A sinner who repents
Let’s be clear that whenever anyone turns to the Lord there is rejoicing in Heaven and there is rejoicing in our hearts. Every person who comes to Christ is a miracle and a great work of the Lord. We do not want to downplay the value of a single soul. Whether it’s a boy, girl, man or woman all are precious and hold eternal value.
The story of the Lord as a shepherd seeking out the lone lost sheep comes to mind. We can’t underestimate the heart of the Lord in seeking out a single soul.
What has changed?
As we read the words of the Lord in John 4:35, “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” and read the adventures of the apostles in the book of Acts we get a sense that seeing a few people saved in an assembly over a decade isn’t what the Lord intended.
The question we can ask ourselves is, “What has changed?” Is it that the fields are no longer white for harvest? Some would suggest that is true by saying people are more secular now and they don’t want to hear about God.
Is it that the Father isn’t sending people to labor into the field? This would imply that the Lord is less concerned now about seeing souls saved than before. It suggests that God is the problem.
A decline in evangelism
A much greater probability is that the church has in many ways pulled out of evangelism. This includes personal evangelism and community efforts where the local church were an integral part of the community around them. Many saints in assemblies don’t even know the names of the families immediately around the assembly building far less have an ongoing relationship with them.
Doing the same old thing
Some churches and assemblies are carrying on efforts that worked 50 years ago but are less effective today. My father speaks of children’s work in the 60’s where hundreds of children would attend whereas today clubs struggle to get even 20. New and innovative ways of reaching out are less common and there is a reluctance to change the way in which evangelism is done.
Busy schedules overtake time to reach out
The North American culture for the average family is hectic. Kids are busy with school, sports, music and friends. Parents are working more and spend more time in front of the TV than ever before. It’s hard to get families to commit to regular outreach activities.
A greater focus on personal wealth and entertainment often replaces the desire to see men and women won for the Lord. Sadly for many believers the American Dream has become their dream too.
Where have all the prayer warriors gone?
It is a rare thing to see a church completely saturated with prayer. I don’t mean there is no prayer meeting, most assemblies have one of those. I refer to an assembly that is committed to real, soul searching and earnest prayer. It is sad that one of the things we are asked to do is pray for the salvation of others and yet it is rarely mentioned at many meetings.
Could it be that we just don’t have enough people in our own lives we are witnessing to? If every person in your assembly had 1 person they were actively reaching out to, how long would our prayer meetings go?
Revival won’t happen in our assemblies without a renewed desire and commitment to reaching the lost bathed in prayer and carried out in action. I speak to my own heart first. We need to be constantly before the Lord asking for boldness to witness to our family, friends and neighbors. We need to be serious about praying for the lost.
Only then can we start top see those numbers turn to the positive and our assemblies grow as the Lord intended.