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Sermon Central Staff
THE HARVEST IS RIPE
The Harvest is ripe -- Here's proof:
Wycliffe: Vision 2025
Translation projects started in every language on the planet by 2025.
In "The Faith Equation," Dr. Marvin Bittinger, Professor of Mathematics at Purdue University and author of over 175 college math textbooks, claims that by 2033 every person on the planet capable of understanding the gospel will have been presented the gospel, according to modern evangelism trends.
34,000 converts each day in South America
28-37,000 Chinese converts daily
23-25,000 African converts daily
16,000 Muslims come to Christ daily - the following stories are all quoted.
"In December 2001, Sheikh Ahmad al Qataani, a leading Saudi cleric, appeared on a live interview on Aljazeera satellite television to confirm that, sure enough, Muslims were turning to Jesus in alarming numbers. "In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity," Al Qataani warned. "Every day, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity." Stunned, the interviewer interrupted the cleric. "Hold on! Let me clarify. Do we have six million converting from Islam to Christianity?" Al Qataani repeated his assertion. "Every year," the cleric confirmed, adding, "a tragedy has happened."
Stories from Muslim countries: Iraq -- thousands of new Christians since Saddam was overthrown, many new churches started, Egypt -- some reports say 1 million Egyptians have trusted Christ over the past decade or so. The Egyptian Bible Society used to sell about 3,000 copies of the JESUS film a year in the early 1990s. But last year they sold 600,000 copies, plus 750,000 copies of the Bible on tape (in Arabic) and about a half million copies of the Arabic New Testament. The largest Christian congregation in the Middle East, meets in an enormous cave on the outskirts of Cairo. Some 10,000 believers worship there every weekend. A prayer conference the church held in May 2005 drew some 20,000 believers, Afghanistan -- only 17 Muslim converts to Christianity before 9/11/01, but now more than 10,000, Kazakstan -- only 3 known Christians in 1990, but now more than 15,000, Sudan -- more than 1 million Sudanese have converted to Christianity just since 2000, and some 5 million have become Christians since the early 1990s, despite a radical Islamic regime and an on-going genocide that has killed more than 200,000.
Seminaries are being held in caves to train pastors to shepherd the huge numbers of people coming to Christ. Why such a dramatic spiritual awakening? "People have seen real Islam, and they want Jesus instead," one Sudanese evangelical leader said, Iran -- in 1979, there were only 500 known Muslim converts to Christianity, but today Iranian pastors and evangelical leaders say there are more than 1 million Iranian believers in Jesus Christ, most of whom meet in underground house churches. One of the most dramatic developments is that many Muslims are seeing dreams and visions of Jesus and thus coming into churches explaining that they have already converted and now need a Bible and guidance on how to follow Jesus."
Worldwide: 174,000 converts daily -- David B. Barret and Todd M. Johnson of the Global Evangelism Movement.
This is truly the most exciting time in all of history to be alive and a part of His Great Commission. The opportunity has never been more dramatic and the need has never been so huge:
All of history has built up to this point.
Global impact in your hometown.
Transportation and communication impacts.
Current end time events.
Israel, wars and other events.
The 4th qtr., bottom of the 9th, the end-game.
(From a sermon by Nate Herbst, The Great Commision -- Discussion, 11/21/2009)
Sermon Central Staff
CHRISTIAN LOVE IMPACTS A HEARTLESS WORLD
We live in a heartless world. The last United States census missed at least 5.7 million people who were anonymous even to the census takers. Every year thousands of unidentified and even unidentifiable bodies are found across North America. And only one out of twenty such bodies ever has a name attached to it! Our society has become a breeding ground for lonely people. Life in today’s world is very much like the unwritten rule in elevators: "No talking, smiling, or eye contact allowed without the written consent of management."
A survey was taken in a suburban area of Houston to find out what had motivated people to choose the particular church where they were members. Some surprising answers were given: 12 percent chose their church because of prior denominational affiliation, 8 percent on the basis of the architectural beauty of the structure, 3 percent because of the person in the pulpit, 18 percent because of convenience of location, 21 percent because of people in the congregation whom they respected. But a whopping 37 percent were influenced by the fact that friends and neighbors took an interest in them and invited them.
Take Paul’s heart to heart. It can make all the difference in the world and for eternity.
(From a sermon by Freddy Fritz, Paul’s Missionary Heart -- Part 2, 10/15/2009)
Sermon Central Staff
STATISTICS ON LONELINESS
This week I read an article by Medical News Today about the health effects of loneliness. Quoting the article, it states that "there is evidence that the risk of developing and dying from heart disease can depend on the strength of one's social network of friends and family."
Warren Clark is a senior analyst with Housing, Family and Social Statistics Division, Statistics Canada. He prepared a survey on Canadian Social Trends. In an age of high-tech communication Clark reveals how we are "terminally in touch...yet many people live alone." Families have decreased from 4 to 2.6 members but houses are larger, from 5 to 6 rooms. We want private bathrooms and private space. The age of people sitting in the same room and being in meaningful activity and relationship is a lost gift of healthy social interaction. On average we spend six hours alone every day.
I think these growing trends reflect a parallel reality in our journey with God. There are more churches, more Christian literature, and more blackberry and iPod apps; more Bible reading-plans, more social networks for podcasts and simulcasts than was dreamed possible a few years ago. Yet the stories of loneliness and isolation from God are staggering and are becoming as common as cable television and fast-food dinners.
Obviously the way to address loneliness is social engagement and relationship-building. Likewise when we feel lonely or isolated from God we need to work on that relationship to correct the problem.
(From a sermon by Dale Pilgrim, Deep Connection, 5/9/2011)
HOW LONG IS MY LIFE
A few years ago People Magazine published an article entitled "Dead Ahead" telling about a new clock that keeps track of how much time you have left to live. It calculates an average life span of 75 years for men & 80 years for women. So you program your sex & age into the clock, & from then on it will tell you how much time you have left. It sold for $99.95.
I didn’t buy one. But it is an intriguing idea. In fact, that’s what the Psalmist told us to do - to number our days.
So if I live to be 75 years old, I have about 2,345 days left to live. That’s all, just 2,345 days left to live. But wait a minute. I don’t have a guarantee of even one day more to live.
In fact the Bible tells us not to count on tomorrow because tomorrow may not come for you or for me...
Sermon Central Staff
DIVORCE RATE MYTH AMONG CHRISTIANS
A common myth going around is that the divorce rate is the same among Christians as it is among non-Christians. But such just isn't the case, when you take a closer look.
According to the "Americans for Divorce Reform," the divorce rate among the general population in America for first marriages is 41%; the divorce rate in America for second marriages is 60%; the divorce rate in America for third marriages is 73%.
The National Commission on America's Urban Families states that, "Research shows that families that maintain an active religious life tend to have lower divorce rates than those who do not participate in religious worship together."
Bradley Wright, a leading sociologist at the University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project, in his book, "Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites ... and Other Lies You've Been Told," reports from his research that "active conservative Protestants" who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce compared to those who have no affiliation. Nominally attending conservative Protestants are 20 percent more likely to divorce, compared to secular Americans.
"Being a committed, faithful believer makes a measurable difference in marriage. Saying you believe something or merely belonging to a church, unsurprisingly, does little for marriage. But the more you are involved in the actual practice of your faith in real ways--through submitting yourself to a serious body of believers, learning regularly from Scripture, being in communion with God though prayer individually and with your spouse and children, and having friends and family around you who challenge you to take you marriage seriously--the greater difference this makes in strengthening both the quality and longevity of our marriages. Faith does matter and the leading sociologists of family and religion tell us so."
(Glenn Stanton, Director for Family Formation Studies, Focus On The Family. From a sermon by Dave McFadden, "What We Believe About Marriage - Part One", 8/22/2011)
Sermon Central Staff
DOWNWARD TRENDS IN U.S. CHRISTIANITY
In George Barna's new book on U.S. Christians called Futurecast, he tracks annual changes from 1991 to 2011 and shows that all the major trend lines of religious belief and behavior ran downward except two: More people claim they have accepted Jesus as their Savior and expect to go to heaven, and more say they haven't been to church in the past six months except for special occasions. In 1991, 24% were "unchurched." Today, it's 37%. Barna lamented: "People say: 'I believe in God. I believe the Bible is a good book. And then I believe whatever I want...We are a designer society. We want everything customized to our personal needs -- our clothing, our food, our education...Now it's our religion."
(USA Today, 9/14/11. From a sermon by Brian Bill, Just Do It, 9/18/2011)
The Bridger Generation, those born between ‘77 and ‘94 and the second largest generation in history, is growing up in homes with no moral certainty, no absolutes, no sense of why right is right and wrong is wrong, and no certain hope for eternal life and God’s abiding presence today. Christians can despair about the current state of religion or lack of religion in our generation, or the church can see this moment as an opportunity to win a generation before they turn to other belief systems. (Dr. Thom Rainer, Central Church.com 10/1/03)
SERVANTHOOD AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH
I surveyed my church to see if people saw a relationship between ministering to others and spiritual growth. When asked, "To what extent has your ministry or service to others affected your spiritual growth?," 92 percent answered positively. None responded that ministry had a negative effect on their spiritual growth. Sixty-three percent indicated that service was equally significant in their spiritual growth compared to other spiritual disciplines, such as Bible study and prayer. Twenty-four percent responded that ministry or service to others had been "a more significant factor" to their spiritual growth than Bible study or prayer. Over half (58 percent) of those who were not actively ministering to others felt either "not satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" with their level of spiritual growth. [Eric Swanson What You Get from Giving (Leadership Journal, Spring 2003), p. 37]
The survey shows what the Bible has said for centuries: "Serving is good for you because it will make you happy and it will have eternal value." The problem comes into serving when the person who serves comes with the wrong attitude.
Listen to what Bill Hybels has to say about this: "The right motivation for Christian service is love. When we discover God loves us with an everlasting love and that we matter deeply to him, we want to serve. He has given us salvation as a free gift. He has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. He has shed the blood of His most precious Son as a sin sacrifice for undeserving souls like ourselves. When all of that comes together and clicks, an unquenchable, divine energy is infused into the spirit of the believer. There is an insatiable desire to return love to God. That love is returned to God through worship and service. It is so natural that anything short of passionate service seems unnatural. One major cause of servant drop-out is faulty motivation. Some people are motivated to serve beca...
Is Islam the Fastest-Growing Religion? Guess Again
by Dinesh D’Souza
Many people think Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world. Not true. Islam is growing fast, but Christianity is growing faster. Indeed there are twice as many Christians as Muslims in the world today and the gap is becoming larger. Moreover, Christianity has become the world’s only religion that is truly universal.
Islam too has a wide reach, but Islam has only a small presence in the United States, Canada, Central and South America, and Australia. Christianity, by contrast, is strong everywhere in the world except the Middle East. Islam is growing mainly through reproduction, which is to say by Muslims having large families. Christianity is growing both through reproduction and through conversion.
So if Christianity is growing so fast, why don’t we see it? Because the growth is occurring mainly in Asia and Africa. The full story is told in What’s So Great About Christianity but here are some examples. In 1900 less than 10 percent of Africa was Christian. Now it’s around 50 percent. That’s an increase from 10 million Christians in 1900 to more than 350 million today. The story is pretty much the same in Asia. China now has an underground church numbering in the tens of millions. In Korea, Christians outnumber Buddhists and, in a remarkable historical reversal, now send missionaries to Europe to convert the natives. Some Asian and African churches have so many members that pastors have to tell people not to come very Sunday, because there is not enough room in the pews. [source: http://islamdom.blogspot.com/2007/10/christianity-growing-faster-than-islam.html]
Vital Statistics From Operation World (6th Edition, 2001, Patrick Johnstone, and Jason Mandryk) Paternoster, Waynesboro, GA
1. 15-25% of the population of the world is yet to hear a clear presentation of the gospel so that they can personally place saving faith in Christ for salvation.
2. Only 6.3% of the world’s population lives in a culture without a witnessing church – though in large populations many would have little chance to visit one.
3. 93.7% of the population lives where they have a witnessing church, but most Christians are not sharing their faith, usually about 2% do on a regular basis.
4. 98% of the world’s population has a resident national or expatriate witness in their midst. This is to emphasize the importance of working through church planters and missionaries in the developing world and especially in the 10/40 window. (ChristianAid.org; BibleLeague.org; GFA.org)
5. 60.3% of the world’s population or 3.6 billion compromising 6000 people groups out of the 12,000 people groups on the earth with a population of over 10,000 people are more than 2% evangelical or more than 5% adherents to Christianity.
6. 39.2% of the world population or 2.3 billion with a population over 10,000 people with 1600 people groups have less than 2% evangelicals and less than 5% adherents to Christianity.
7. .5% of the world’s population (many being migrant over or cross-border minorities) with 30 million people and 4400 people groups have more than 2% evangelicals or more than 5% adherents to Christianity.
8. A church for every people group. The challenge to adopt a people group for payer and ministry gained momentum in 1990’s. Progress was logged for the 1,583 peoples listed in the October 2000 Joshua Project List with the following results:
A. By the end of 2000 there was a church planting team in 1084 of the people groups and evidence of a congregation of 100 members in 487 people groups. This does not include the possible 2000 people groups of under 10,000 population that remain inadequately researched and may need pioneer church planting. The biggest need is the inadequate mechanism for holding those committed to their promises for adoption, insufficient verification and over-simplification of the task but thank God for what was achieved. This means that there are only about 500 people groups of over 10,000 that are yet to have a church planting team. We need to train the church planters and equip them to help complete Matthew 24:14 and the whole of the five aspects of the great commission.
B. DAWN – Jim Montgomery’s strategy to reach out to the edge and then draw a matrix of the whole community and church plant the whole.
9. World A – 28.% of these countries have had exposure to the gospel – (2% with no witness; 4.3% with resident witness; 21.9% with indigenous church) (West Africa to Sudan; Horn of Africa – Somalia; North Africa and West Asia; E. turkey, Iran Afghan. NE Pakistan, Turkey, Central Asia. Siberia, China, Mongolia; Western China, Himalayas, Myanmar, India (caste distinctions) Indo-China, Thailand, South and Southwest China, North Korea, Malaysia, Israel, Central and East Africa, East Asia,
10. 90% of the all the least reached peoples on the earth live within the areas shown on the map in p. 17 of Operation world. In the all the rest of the world are about 350 people groups with 82 million individuals which are in the least reached category.
11. There are 20 million Christians among the World A people groups and probably some on going church planting ministry among the 2,500 of the 3,500 people groups represented in this group. Within these Affinity groups on p. 16 is the best key to reaching these people groups.
12. Relatively few of these 3500 people groups have no known Christians but in most cases they constitute a small minority on average 1.2% of the population. They face many pressures and even persecution.
13. Churches and individuals need to have a vision for the lost and unreached people groups of the world to complete all five aspects of the great commission.
A. Mark 16:15 – The evangelistic challenge
B. Matt 28:18-20 – The discipling/church planting challenge
C. Luke 24:44-49 – Repentance and the teaching challenge
D. John 20:21 – The missions challenge and the suffering challenge
E. Acts 1:8 – The global challenge (To the uttermost parts of the earth)
14. There must be great commission disciple-makers made of each ethnic group. (Matt 28:18-20) This gives western Christian great opportunities to equip, facilitate, train and support disciple-makers and church planters in the developing world as teachers, givers and catalysts. Leadership training programs and seminaries are greatly needed around the world. Leadership is the key.
15. Christian radio has a potential coverage of 99% of the earth population with the gospel as well as training locals for church planting and church leadership.
16. The Jesus Film has been shown to nearly 5 billion people and has recorded around 150 million decisions for Christ. It has a potential coverage of 99% of the world’s population
17. New Testaments are available to 94% of the world’s population
18. 93.7% of the world’s population has a local witness available to them.