As great as challenges are outside the church, the people of God also face challenges inside the church. Take for instance, the following types of believers inside the church:
The Uninformed Believer
Many who claim the name of Christ are simply ignorant of the needs that exist in mission. They cling to some half-truths based on a few scattered facts. What many know about mission comes from a few half-heard mission programs at church usually focusing on the progress rather than the challenges. The church must be educated about the needs of mission.
The Distracted Believer
Money, busyness, and the world’s everyday cares can distract us from our mission. Debt for an education and worry about the future can hinder our commitment to mission. Criticism of the church and its organization can also cause us to forget what we are really here for. Many don’t deny the need for mission; they simply don’t get around to doing anything about it.
The Timid Believer
Many of us are merely fearful and timid. We are afraid we don’t have anything to share with others. Some are concerned about the response of others to a decision to go on a mission. Others are afraid of change or anything risky.
Can you start to visualize the magnitude of the missionary task? We have some work to do both inside and outside our church!
Let’s take a look at how the world population falls in four disproportionate parts:
- Bible-believing Christians that take the Great Commission seriously. They represent about one tenth of the world.
- Christians in name only. No commitment to world mission. They represent about two tenths of the world.
- Non-Christians who live culturally and geographically near Christian neighbors. They represent about three tenths of the world.
- Non-Christians who can’t hear the gospel because they live behind cultural and, often, geographic barriers. They can be reached only if Bible-believing Christians decide to send cross-cultural missionaries. The task to reach them is further complicated by the fact that they may live in restricted access areas of the world and often in utter poverty. They represent about four in ten people of the world. Most of them live in the 10/40 Window.
So, how can we reach them? We can use three types of evangelistic approaches to reach all different groups:
Evangelism that brings revival to nominal Christians in a similar culture. It requires evangelistic tools for renewal and revival. Adventists are strong in this category.
Evangelism to unchurched Christian and non-Christian people in a similar culture. It requires sensitive evangelistic strategies that appeal to unchurched, secularized, and non-Christian people. We have had only marginal success in reaching people of this background.
Evangelism across an increasing number of cultural barriers. Progress among Non-Christians who can’t hear the gospel because they live behind cultural and, often, geographic barriers (group 4) has been slow. Adventists have done well reaching tribal peoples. We are beginning to be more successful in communicating with people from the great world religions. But we still have a long way to go.
As you can see, there are many factors within and without the church that clearly show the urgency of mission today. Any one or a combination of the factors within the church can lead to a paralysis which cuts the nerve of mission. Some have been called by God to fight the challenge of mission within the church and by God’s Spirit spark renewal.
So, What About You?
Which of the challenges mentioned appeals most to you? What religion, area, need, or country is God laying on your heart?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.