Matthew 9:35-38 says: “Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.’”
Surrounded by multitudes — almost 38 million in our state, with about 33 million unchurched — why are we so quick to look elsewhere for mission opportunities? I believe the challenge for many is unwillingness to leave comfort zones to share Christ with lost family members, neighbors, co-workers and fellow students.
Scripture is very clear and tell us that “Jesus went to all the towns and villages.” That verse has special meaning to me and touches my heart. Jesus did not sit around waiting for the people to come to Him, but instead He left the comfort of His surroundings and ventured out to towns and villages. That’s what we need to do — California Southern Baptists need to be about evangelism, ministry and church starting!
We know the way we “do church” is not as effective as it once was. Researchers and missiologists tell us we are not engaging the culture. And we know the culture is certainly not engaging our congregations. So how do we do that? I’m not fully certain, other than getting outside the church to minister and show people we care about them and their needs because of Jesus and what He has to offer.
We also need to be about evangelism. There are untold numbers of believers who have yet to share their faith in the communities where they live. We’ve heard the excuses — “That section of town is too far, or it’s too dangerous, or I can’t relate to those people.” Where and how far are these difficult places? Sometimes they are simply across the room to speak with a co-worker, or next door to talk to a neighbor, or across the street to engage a classmate. Mission opportunities are bountiful and we must be willing and ready to accept the challenge to “go” to those who are nearest to us.
We also need to be about planting congregations in all the towns and villages so there will be preaching, ministry, evangelism and worship to take place as we move forward in reaching Californians for Christ.
None of these activities alone will get the job done. It will take them all. Let’s move forward in ministering, evangelizing and planting churches. California Southern Baptists, we are the “laborers” Christ is referring to in the Matthew passage. I encourage you to be a laborer in order that we might reap the harvest of 33 million souls in California.
Find other perspectives from Dr. Whittaker in archives.