When I started pastoring my first church in January of 1977, it was “my church field.” That common phrase has been used to describe a lot of places where churches are established, and we’ve become rather protective about our “church field.” Through the last couple of generations, our church fields seem to have become smaller and smaller to the point that in many cases “church field” has come to mean the people within the walls of the building in which we’re meeting. Too many of our churches have become isolated and insulated from the lost of the world.
In his book Outgrowing the Ingrown Church, John C. Miller explains that an ingrown church’s controlling purpose has to do with “survival—not with growth through the conversion of the lost.” Charles Harris commented in an editorial for The Christian Index, “Many churches, associations, and even entire denominations seem to plan and strategize for survival rather than revival. The survival mentality robs the church of optimism, and it consumes her of time with inward activity.” Too many churches are looking in the mirror instead of out the windows.
While we have been consumed with ourselves, our church field has become the mission field. Consider this:
- This past Sunday, more than 75% of the people of Tennessee were not worshipping in anyone’s church. That is 4 ½ million people within the borders of the state of Tennessee that quite possibly to do not know Christ as Savior.
- There are over 100 language groups within the state of Tennessee.
- Pugh Research recently reported that the Muslim population in the Americas will grow from a little more than 5 million to around 11 million in the next 20 years.
- Your neighbor probably does not know Christ as Savior.
If we are indeed the mission field, then we need to be collaborative and creative like good missionaries in reaching our Judea for Christ. We need to have broken hearts for the lost. Our prayer is that this brokenness will result in a church strengthening, church planting, church multiplying movement across Tennessee. Whether we call it a new church plant, multi-site, or a dozen new Sunday School units on an existing church campus, we must focus on multiplying the opportunities we have to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It may be relationship building, missional ministry venues, door-to-door soul winning, or media evangelism, but simply put—whatever it takes to reach people for Jesus Christ we must be about. When it comes to evangelism, there is no right way or wrong way to point people to The Way. It is exciting to passionately and strategically think about how we can impact our mission field at home and around the world in a new way in this new day. “The light that shines the farthest shines the brightest at home.” Dear people, let’s get out from under the bushel and let our light shine. Let’s get beyond “us four and no more” thinking, and become the passionate shepherd looking for the lost sheep, and then celebrate enthusiastically when the lost are found. We must do this. We can do this for His honor, for His glory in His power.