Pastors, The American Church, Evangelism and God.

Discussion in 'Missions / Witnessing / eVangelism' started by Brice, Mar 7, 2006.

  1. Brice

    Brice
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    I put this question in the missions section due to the fact that I feel it pertains to evangelism as a whole.

    I’ve been thinking about this subject for some time and recently in a thread ShannonL made some comments that peaked my interest (I agreed with most of the comments). They were pertaining to the mega-church and overseas evangelism. Now to the heart of my post –

    America is a blessed country without a doubt, but are we listening to the leading of God or our own ideas? We’ve put our efforts stateside in so many realms, including but not limited too, Bible Translations, financial giving, call of the clergy, church building, etc. The questions I would like to pose are –

    Is this of God?
    How can I have 500 churches in a 50 mile square radius in my area of California (Central Valley) and there are countries that have less than 10?
    Were there really 500 pastors called to my area and only a few called to Africa or China?
    Why do we have huge brand new buildings and so little money goes to missions?
    Did God really call us to have a multitude of translations, when there are countries without one?

    Disclaimer –

    I am not against the size of a church and this isn’t geared towards anyone. I also understand that there are places without churches in the States, but I’m speaking in generalities. God bless.

    [ March 07, 2006, 01:24 AM: Message edited by: Brice ]
     
  2. TaterTot

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    Brice, you ask some difficult questions, ones that I have grappled with as well. I will be reading with interest as I ponder my own answer.
     
  3. His In China

    His In China
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    Pastor -- Here's a good illustration concerning your question. I don't know the writer other than he's working in Japan. The illustration is simple, yet powerful.


    A missions parable about lost people: putting world evangelism statistics in perspective
    by James M. Weber, missionary to Japan.

    Once upon a time there was an apple grower who had acres and acres of apple trees. In all, he had 10,000 acres of apple orchards.

    One day he went to the nearby town. There, he hired 1,000 apple pickers. He told them:

    "Go to my orchards. Harvest the ripe apples, and build storage buildings for them so that they will not spoil. I need to be gone for a while, but I will provide all you will need to complete the task. When I return, I will reward you for your work.

    "I'll set up a Society for the Picking of Apples. The Society -- to which you will all belong -- will be responsible for the entire operation. Naturally, in addition to those of you doing the actual harvesting, some will carry supplies, others will care for the physical needs of the group, and still others will have administrative responsibilities."

    As he set up the Society structure, some people volunteered to be pickers and others to be packers. Others put their skills to work as truck drivers, cooks, accountants, storehouse builders, apple inspectors and even administrators. Every one of his workers could, of course, have picked apples. In the end, however, only 100 of the 1,000 employees wound up as full-time pickers.

    The 100 pickers started harvesting immediately. Ninety-four of them began picking around the homestead. The remaining six looked out toward the horizon. They decided to head out to the far-away orchards.

    Before long, the storehouses in the 800 acres immediately surrounding the homestead had been filled by the 94 pickers with beautiful, delicious apples.

    The orchards on the 800 acres around the homestead had thousands of apple trees. But with almost all of the pickers concentrating on them, those trees were soon picked nearly bare. In fact, the ninety-four apple pickers working around the homestead began having difficulty finding trees which had not been picked.

    As the apple picking slowed down around the homestead, Society members began channeling effort into building larger storehouses and developing better equipment for picking and packing. They even started some schools to train prospective apple pickers to replace those who one day would be too old to pick apples.

    Sadly, those ninety-four pickers working around the homestead began fighting among themselves. Incredible as it may sound, some began stealing apples that had already been picked. Although there were enough trees on the 10,000 acres to keep every available worker busy, those working nearest the homestead failed to move into unharvested areas. They just kept working those 800 acres nearest the house. Some on the northern edge sent their trucks to get apples on the southern side. And those on the south side sent their trucks to gather on the east side.

    Even with all that activity going on the harvest on the remaining 9,200 acres was left to just six pickers. They were, of course, far too few to gather all the ripe fruit in those thousands of acres. So, by the hundreds of thousands, apples rotted on the trees and fell to the ground.

    One of the students at the apple-picking school showed a special talent for picking apples quickly and effectively. When he heard about the thousands of acres of untouched faraway orchards, he started talking about going there.

    His friends discouraged him. They said: "Your talents and abilities make you very valuable around the homestead. You'd be wasting your talents out there. Your gifts can help us harvest apples from the trees on our central 800 acres more rapidly. That will give us more time to build bigger and better storehouses. Perhaps you could even help us devise better ways to use our big storehouses since we have wound up with more space than we need for the present crop of apples."

    With so many workers and so few trees, the pickers and packers and truck drivers -- and all the rest of the Society for the Picking of Apples living around the homestead -- had time for more than just picking apples.

    They built nice houses and raised their standard of living. Some became very conscious of clothing styles. Thus, when the six pickers from the far-off orchards returned to the homestead for a visit, it was apparent that they were not keeping up with the styles in vogue with the other apple pickers and packers.

    To be sure, those on the homestead were always good to those six who worked in the far away orchards. When any of those six returned from the far away fields, they were given the red carpet treatment. Nonetheless, those six pickers were saddened that the Society of the Picking of Apples spent 96 percent of its budget for bigger and better apple-picking methods and equipment and personnel for the 800 acres around the homestead while it spent only 4 percent of its budget on all those distant orchards.

    To be sure, those six pickers knew that an apple is an apple wherever it may be picked. They knew that the apples around the homestead were just as important as apples far away. Still, they could not erase from their minds the sight of thousands of trees which had never been touched by a picker.

    They longed for more pickers to come help them. They longed for help from packers, truck drivers, supervisors, equipment-maintenance men, and ladder builders. They wondered if the professionals working back around the homestead could teach them better apple-picking methods so that, out where they worked, fewer apples would rot and fall to the ground.

    Those six sometimes wondered to themselves whether or not the Society for the Picking of Apples was doing what the orchard owner had asked it to do.

    While one might question whether the Society was doing all the owner wanted done, the members did keep very busy. Several members were convinced that proper apple picking requires nothing less than the very best equipment. Thus, the Society assigned several members to develop bigger and better ladders as well as nicer boxes to store apples. The Society also prided itself at having raised the qualification level for full-time apple pickers.

    When the owner returns, the Society members will crowd around him and proudly show off the bigger and better ladders they've built and the nice apple boxes they've designed and made. One wonders how happy that owner will be, however, when he looks out and sees the acres and acres of untouched trees with their unpicked apples.
     
  4. John of Japan

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    Thanks for the moving parable, His In China. I know exactly James Weber wrote the parable. I feel the same way.

    I once heard these statistics. I may not have it exactly right, but the last 3 figures are right. Out of 50 who surrender to the mission field, only about half get training at Bible college. Of those, only about ten actually begin preparation to go to the field. Of those 10, only 4 actually make it to the field. Of the 4, only 2 last more than one term. Of those 2, only 1 makes it a career.

    So, God is calling believers to be missionaries, but they put anything and everything ahead of doing His will. I personally cannot believe that the statistics Brice gave in the OP are God's will for all of those people when there is only about one Protestant church (including the liberals, Charismatics and everyone) for every 26,000 people in Japan, when I could show you major cities here with no Gospel preaching church, when according to Wycliffe there are still 3000 languages without any portion of the Bible, when countries like Russia have to use Bible translations that are almost 150 years old, and when in spite of all this the evangelical missionary force is decreasing year by year. [​IMG]
     
  5. exscentric

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    Just because someone calls, it doesn't follow that someone not listening will hear :-(

    New Tribes mission used to distribute the orchard tract. They also had a picture that was quite effective, it was of a young man pushing a young woman. The caption was "Here am I Lord, send my sister."

    I think many just figure someone else will do it.

    The American church (read that as painted with a broad brush) was starting to support home missions heavier "to build a strong support base to send foreign workers" 25 years ago, still hear of people not being able to get support. Guess we can suggest that it didn't work. Not that many in missions thought it would.

    One of the local churches was a heavy foreign supporter till a board member from an area home missions board got on the churches mission board - now they are almost exclusively home mission supporters.

    Once heard a home missions board director preach that all churches should take foreign money and give to home. I confronted him afterwards and asked if it wouldn't be better to encourage more missions giving to both? He denied saying he suggested taking foreign for home.

    It struck me years ago that my generation is the only one that can reach our own lost generation and we didn't do that good a job of it. The present generation seems to be doing even less (In America).

    Seems worldwide missionary numbers are rising however :)

    Knew an Aussie that was a missionary to the USA back in Bible college days - (35-40 years ago) the world sees our need even if we don't.
     
  6. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    What a powerful parable China - I can certainly identify.

    What makes it really sad is when some of those six pickers in the distant orchard getting tired of the loneliness of their work and go back to join the others :( .
     
  7. Brice

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    On the news a few weeks ago it stated that my area has over 500 churches. 500! In just my city. That hurt in some ways because it forced me to realize how neglected other areas are in our society. It just doesn’t fit in my mind, that God would call all those ministers to my area and neglect so many other spots. It made me wonder if sometimes we listen to our desires rather then Gods, even when we’re trying to do Gods work.

    By the way His In China, great post and thanks.
     
  8. His In China

    His In China
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    Pstr Brice,

    Thanks! Here's a thought. Visit a field in the 10/40 window. Once you visit, it will really transform your thoughts.

    We've had several pastors to come and now they urge their people to get involved (picking apples).

    We can use teachers each summer to help in Summer English Camps. Each teacher, that has come, has enjoyed their summer here and couldn't believe the opportunities available to them or their church.

    Visiting the various fields opens peoples minds and hearts to the realities of the fields that have yet to be harvested. Each visitor brings back to the local church great excitement and joy.

    For the pastor, it gives him new priorities for his flock. Keeping them busy on the various fields each summer, the flock now has no time to be idle and the desire to build new "ladders" stop.

    Just a thought and I'm sure there are many on the various foreign fields who would welcome you to see their works and what God is doing.

    Thanks for be willing to voice a question that is usually brushed under the rug. It really helps and gives us hope each time a pastor realizes these issues.

    Pray for us and the others here on their various fields and we will pray for you as you stir others to be labourers into HIS harvest.

    Luk 10:2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
     
  9. Brice

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    His in China,

    Thanks for the kind responses. I am not a pastor yet, more so a pastor in training. I am entering seminary soon and am looking forward to being more involved in ministry in the future (full time ministry, not necessarily lay ministry). I have the utmost respect for missions work and can’t wait to see Gods leading in that area (for my life). We only have one life to give and there is no better way to give it then in missions. If it wasn’t for my education and finances I’d be headed out next week. My current interest is in Africa, but would love to explore other nations on a short term basis, to really figure out Gods leading.

    Some of these questions made me really think and hopefully they did the same for some others. Thanks and God bless.
     
  10. Brice

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    I guess we have our blinders on sometimes. It just seems to me that we have most of the translations, most of the schooling and most of the money and with all this we seem to keep it centralized. I’m surely not against the large church or the programs they have, but I would like to see some of those programs go other places. We are blessed and sometimes over blessed while others are perishing without hearing the Word. By the way I don’t exclude myself form this and I’m certainly working on it.
     

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