Mission Possible

You have to admire the balance of optimism and realism in Jesus’ words - “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few."

Peter Baker | 11:21, Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Personally, I struggle to see the world teeming with opportunities for the growth of Christian faith - at least in our neck of the woods. By 2020, at current projections, there will be less than 4% of the population attending a church in Wales, according to a reliable recent report.

If it wasn’t for the positive difference which the immigration to the UK of Christians from all around the globe has made, even missional churches like ours would be pushed not to flatline.

The causes of this decline are many and varied. But it's the capacity to see the possibilities rather than the problems which inspires me. To believe, as Jesus did, that the good news of the Kingdom of God will produce growth, that there are many who are just waiting to be gathered in.

So the issue isn’t with the size or quality of the harvest but the workforce. Here’s where realism kicks in – there aren’t enough of us to make the most of the opportunity.

And so the answer to this labour shortage? Wait for it. Prayer! Not courses on evangelism and conferences on mission; not hyperactive church programmes or methodologically sophisticated cultural analyses; not even state of the art media, but prayer.

You could translate Matthew 9:38 from the original as, "Ask the Lord of the Harvest to push the work force out." Read it like that and suddenly the penny drops. This is the Lord’s harvest so He knows what it’s going to take to get the job done.  Our role is not to mobilise the troops but to pray them into action. To call on God to open the eyes of His people to the challenge, responsibility and urgency of the need and to be a part of that answer ourselves. For when we walk out of church we enter the mission field, whether office, neighbourhood, law firm, hospital ward or sports club.

Prayer makes mission impossible, possible.

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