Tuesday, September 06, 2011

It's not about the program....

This is a sobering reality that many churches are currently facing. They have invested in the popular programs of the day – they offer Awana, they do a bang-up job with VBS, and sing and dance with their praise and worship – but they aren’t growing. What’s the problem? We are following the program. We are here ready to minister to the folks but where are they?

Ha! Scripture says that the fields are white for the harvest. So, we should assume when talking about the church that this means there are people who are ready… the ground was tilled, the seeds were planted, fertilizer was applied, the rains fell, and even some weeding was done. The fields are ready to be harvested! Cool, we are ready too. We have the programs.

But, where is the harvest? First, let me say that I am not a farmer. But, I have picked crops before. I have picked green beans, corn, purple hull peas, strawberries, and various other fruits and vegetables. However, none of those crops ever just jumped into my waiting basket. That would have been lovely and so much easier! Let me tell you picking strawberries in the hot Florida heat is not something that I enjoyed! It was hot work. Picking blackberries left me with scratches and thorns in my hands. And, the time that I picked okra, I broke out in a rash all over my hands, legs, and arms. Fun it wasn’t! But, if I wanted to get on with my program of freezing the strawberries, making blackberry preserves, and cooking up that okra, I had to go and pick the crops.

We seem to be able to line up folks (often with some arm twisting) to help with the programs but we just can’t seem to find workers for the fields. Why is that?

Let me tell you want happens with the tomatoes in my yard that get ripe but I don’t go pick them. They shrivel up, fall off the vine, and rot on the ground. Does the Lord have a harvest for us ready but we aren’t picking it? That’s food for thought.

So, how do we get our church members, who already have too much on their plates to go out into the fields and pick the ripe fruit? I’ll tell you what we don’t need – another program. What we need to be doing is training our folks to recognize the ripe fruit that they pass daily in their lives. We need to teach them to be brave.

Engage people in conversation. Don’t just stick a flyer in their hand but engage them! Look for opportunities to do small acts of kindness for a neighbor, a co-worker, your brother, sister, or a stranger. The field is the marketplace of your life. Do you put gas in your car? Talk to the person who is pumping next to you. Do you buy groceries? Talk to the person in line with you. Talk to the check-out clerk. Do you work in a factory or office? Well, talk to those folks. See if you can’t find out their needs or hurts and then try to meet them in some way.

Be Jesus’ ambassador. I love the story of the woman at the well. Jesus went to the well because he needed a drink but He stopped and spoke to this woman. And, guess what happened? She found God and immediately went and got her community and brought them out to Jesus and they found God. Jesus didn’t wait for the woman to come and hear Him preach. He found her at a well. He looked into her eyes and saw her need and then He engaged her in a conversation. Amazing! He didn’t even have a program. Yet that day, God’s kingdom grew.

"Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” (John 4:35, NASB).

Open your eyes, church. Christ has told us that the field is ready to be harvested!

Go get your basket and get out into the fields.

Be Blessed!


Deborah said...

What an encouragement ! Thank you. It reminds me of what an Irish man told Marigrace and me : "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice." In this case, way more important.

I love you. Thank you for all the support you have given to me in my writing.

Leah-Joy said...

Thank you, Miss Debbie! That was very encouraging! I love while Jesus was getting what he NEEDED he did God's work at the same time! Thank you, again!