When Jesus said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of
men” (Mark 1:17), He was giving a command and a promise: “Follow Me”—that
is the command; “and I will make you fishers of men”—that is the promise. If
we’re following Jesus, we’re fishers of men and if we aren’t fishers of men, we
aren’t following Jesus.
When Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations…and surely I am
with you always until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20), He
meant, go take the world for Me, and I will go with you. That is our mission.
That is our mandate. Sharing Christ must be our magnificent obsession.
Unfortunately, it’s evident we’re failing at our task. In recent years half
the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention baptized three or fewer people.
We’re not winning North America—we’re losing it. Three challenges must be dealt
with if we are to reverse this tragic trend.
1. Distraction. Tucked away almost out of sight in a seldom
dusted corner of the Bible is a passage that reveals this problem. It is part
of a prophet’s warning. It is found in 1 Kings 20:38-40 (NIV): Then the
prophet went and stood by the road waiting for the king by the way. He
disguised himself with his headband down over his eyes. As the king passed by,
the prophet called out to him, “Your servant went into the thick of the battle
and someone came to me with a captive and said, ‘Guard this man. If he is
missing, it will be your life for his life, or you must pay a talent of
silver.’ While your servant was busy here and there, the man
Fredrick Speakman asks, “Can we be discerning and sense the prophetic edge
of that simple confession, ‘While I was busy here and there, he was gone?’”
This is the confession of any man who has some chief thing to do, but who so
scatters his duties that the most important thing eludes him. That’s what
happens when our best energies are spent on being merely busy. Many people feel
this way and therefore recite in one form or another the words of T.S.
Elliot—“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.”
In the midst of our opulent buildings, highly trained staffs,
state-of-the-art technology and multiple quick-fix programs, the question
persists—“Has anyone been saved here lately?” We must get past the distractions
and get to the work Christ left with us.
2. Disobedience. The Bible commands us to minister to the
whole person—body, mind and spirit. The failure to do so is condemned both in
the Old and New Testaments.
In the Old Testament there’s a verse describing the sin of Sodom. We often
focus on the detestable sins of Sodom, but Ezekiel 16:49-50 also says the
people were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor
and needy. The modern church has many times fallen into these same
In the New Testament we note Matthew 25:53-68: “I was hungry, I was
thirsty, I was a stranger, I needed clothes, I was sick, I was in prison…
whatever you did not do for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did
not do for me.” In this passage, every sin has to do with the omission of
ministry. Jesus was very concerned about those in need. As Christians, His
concerns become our concerns.
In the last 30 years practicing ministry evangelism in a town of 15,000
people with 92 churches, First Baptist Leesburg has reached and baptized almost
7,000 people to the glory of Christ. Most of the growth has been transformation
growth—not transfer growth. And our transformation came when we began spending
our time fishing for men instead of wrapping the fish someone else caught! This
has been done primarily through ministry evangelism—homeless ministries,
recovery programs for drug addicts, pregnancy care centers and more. We never
knew the magnitude of the problem of hurting people until we started
ministry-based evangelism. With more than 70 ministries, we’ve sought to meet
the total needs of the total person so they might be made whole through a
saving encounter with Christ.
3. Deception. Is Christ a way, the best way or the only
way? The Bible is clear—He is the only way. Every unbeliever—Muslim, Jew,
Baptist or whatever—who does not accept Christ will perish. We’ve been more
interested in being politically correct than theologically sound! Little wonder
there’s no zeal or passion for the lost when universalism is the pabulum being
peddled from many pulpits. As we minister to hurting people, we need to be sure
to minister in the name of Christ our Lord and not water down the gospel.
In order to get past these challenges, we must refocus and make the number
one priority the number one priority. We must repent and take the whole gospel
to the whole person that they will be made whole in Christ. We must reject
political correctness and return to theological soundness and boldly proclaim
there is no other name by which one can be saved but by the name of Jesus!
Christ has entrusted a hurting world to our hands. I pray we will see serving
hands coming from loving hearts in which Christ resides.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC