Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Chasing after people takes longer when they are moving away from you rather than towards you. Yet we continue to do it as that is the Christian thing to do.

Some of the people we have met responded warmly to our Gospel message, and to our offer to train them in telling their story and explaining the Gospel, and planting churches. Yet they have failed to be home at the arranged time, and failed to return calls or texts. So we eventually catch up with them, and they express the same enthusiasm as previously - but again are out (or hiding) when the appointed time comes - with no explanation or apology. So we try all over again.

I don't think this is biblical, or what Jesus did. Yes he welcomed people with all their sin and mess and brokenness, but he also expected them to change - "sin no more," "give back to the people you've ripped off." Jesus wholeheartedly and unreservedly embraced people as they were, but then demanded repentance, which involved a changed life, then moved on, apparently without feeling the need to offer a comprehensive support package, or repeatedly chase those who fell away. Indeed the parable of the sower suggests that this is inevitable, even when the one sowing is the Son of God himself.

Jesus of course went further - at times he made it incredibly hard for people to follow him, seemingly doing his best to put them off. The rich young guy was told to sell everything he had and give it away. Nicodemus, proud of his heritage, was told he must be "born again."

I am fearful that in constantly chasing after people we are doing little more than making ourselves feel good and ensuring unhealthy dependency. While Jesus did address crowds, he also sent out 72, and prioritised his training of the 12 disciples. He did not chase after the rebellious, but poured himself into the willing and committed. A lesson to be learnt?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Never too late

Ying Kai was the person God used to pioneer the TrainingforTrainers (T4T) model. It resulted in more than 1,700,000 people being baptized and just under 160,000 churches being planted in less than ten years! That is more than one third of the population of New Zealand!

One of the most encouraging facts about Ying that I have heard this week is that he was 53 years old when he first ventured to the mission field where he has seen such incredible growth. Turning 50 didn’t feel significant at the time, but when I see the deep darkness all around, and reflect on the vast numbers of lost people, I almost feel that it is too late for me to do much about it. Not so!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How many?

One of the questions we were encouraged to ask is at the Church Planting Movements conference is “How many of my people will hear the Gospel today?” How many people in Avondale will hear the Gospel today? In Auckland? In all of New Zealand? It is impossible to answer with any certainty, but I suspect the number would be pitiful.

Most Christians say they want to see people coming to faith – but the truth is that there are no more people in Avondale/Auckland/New Zealand who will come to faith today than will hear the Gospel. It is a simple truth, obvious even, yet how many of us actually live a lifestyle in which sharing Jesus is a daily occurrence? We don’t just share faith when we knock on doors, we do it whenever and however we can.

So how many of God’s people will hear the good news where you live today?