“Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” – Matthew 9:37-38
Why are the workers few i today’s church?
1 – Ecclesiological reasons
The focus of cultural Christianity is “going to church” not “living on mission” so we created a system and culture where you can be perfectly fine and faithful with zero connection to mission.
2 – Giftedness reasons
God gifts his people and not everyone is a gifted evangelist (Eph 4:11 has more than one gift). Often, people avoid tasks and responsibilities they aren’t very good at to focus on their strengths. I get why that is the case but we can all use our talents toward the mission. The shepherd is needed so that when the evangelistically gifted go out and bring people in, the new people have someone to shepherd them. The gifted teachers can also teach the new people. We just need to consider how our gifts fit the mission even when we aren’t the tip of the spear.
3 – Employment/business issues
We created a professional class of missionaries. That’s okay but we also need to communicate that the mission is done by more people than that. God calls more people than just the professionals to be on mission. The cultural Christianity idea is that people come to church and give and they expect others to do what God expects everyone to do.
4 – Personality issues
Personality is similar to giftedness. Some people are introverts and it kills them to meet new people. So evangelism is one of the last things they want to do. But what if we considered how our personality might actually advance the mission? The introvert can still be a friend to someone who comes for the first time and has no one to sit with or they might be a great teacher to teach new people the basics. The introvert doesn’t have to go out and find people but could be ready to receive people as they come.
5 – Disobedience
This is the hard one. Some times we just aren’t willing to do what Jesus said to do. Period.
Ecclesiological and employment issues are corporate paradigm/cultural issues on the organizational level. They have to be fixed on the same level in which they exist – the corporate level. A new culture with new (biblical) expectations needs to be formed. That takes years but it is important work. The giftedness, personality and obedience issues are issues we can all examine for ourselves and make shifts on a personal level to get more of us out on the mission field.
Last, a note of hope – Jesus said the harvest is plentiful. Often our working assumption is that the harvest is not plentiful, so why try? But the harvest is plentiful if we are willing to go out to the people who need Jesus and start building relationships and trust, study with them, encourage them, pray with them, and encourage them. Then see if God makes it grow!
All we can do is sow and water but too few people are even doing that.
What would you add to the list? Let us hear from you in the comments.
PS – Isn’t it interesting that Jesus told his disciples to pray/ask the Lord to send out workers rather than telling them to go out as workers? My opinion is that Jesus said this because if you tell them to go out they won’t pray for more workers/seek/develop more workers but if you tell them to pray for more workers…you can only pray that so many times before you figure out you are one of the workers!