Summary: I talk about the reality of a great harvest of lost people coming to Christ--but it will take some effort on our part.

Getting Ready for the Harvest

August 10, 2002

As we approach our two-year anniversary I couldn’t help but praise God for what he has been doing here at NCC. I looked back through our records and was reminded about how lives have been touched here. Did you know since September 2000 to now we have increased our attendance 98%? Our attendance this past year has increased almost 33%. Our life group attendance has increased significantly too. In our two years of existence we have seen 26 people make commitments to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. 16 of those have come this year alone. Fifteen current members of NCC accepted Christ through our ministry here. Just this year alone we have baptized 11 people. We baptized three just last week. I praise God that both our budget and giving has increased since last year. We went on our very first mission trip experience this summer and had a fantastic time. Right now we have about 11 active ministries going.

But as I think about the thousands of people right here in our community who are still without a relationship with Jesus Christ it’s hard to get too excited about our progress. I am reminded that our work here is just getting started. Did you know that if every Bible believing church in Portland had 1000 people actively attending that there would still be people in our community without a church home? I do not know if you knew this but the number of unchurched people is growing every year. “Only 41% of Americans attend church services on a typical weekend. Each new generation becomes increasingly unchurched. Slightly over one half (51%) of the builder generation (born before 1946) attends church in a typical weekend. But only 41% of the boomers (born 1946-1964) and 34% of the busters (born 1965-1976) attend church on the weekend. The younger generation, the bridgers (born 1977-1994), indicates that only 30% attend church. (Surprising Insights from the Unchurched p. 33).

This should really open our eyes because 80% of people who accept Christ do so before the age of 20. This should sober us immensely but it also tells us how important ministry is to youth and children. So I say thank you to our youth minister and his leaders and all of you who serve our children week end and week out.

I don’t know about you all but I am praying that God would stir in our hearts the desire to see this school/church full of people who are brand new believers. Could God be preparing us to see reap a great harvest of new people reached for the gospel?

I would like to read a few verses from Matthew chapter 9 beginning in verse 35 through 38. READ.

I hope you see firstly in this passage that Jesus was never afraid to go where the people were! He went to their towns and villages and their synagogues. Understand we have been called to be in the world but not of it. So let’s make sure we are not secluding ourselves.

We need to remember that Jesus was in a context much like ours. It was a very spiritually in tune society. There were synagogues on every corner. Tons of religious rulers, priests, Pharasees and Sadduccees. And yet notice what it says: Jesus had compassion on them because he saw them as harassed and helpless. These people didn’t need another religious authority they needed a touch from the living God. I can imagine as Jesus traveled through the towns that he couldn’t get their faces off his mind (as if he wanted to anyway). The faces of the people he saw stirred his heart. The very word compassion means “to be moved in ones stomach with pity.”

ILLUSTRATION: Several years ago my sister in law’s father contacted me. He was dying of cancer and asked if I would visit him. He wanted to talk to me because he wanted to make sure he was right with God before he died. It was a bitter sweet visit because I had the joy of reassuring him that because he gave his heart to Jesus that he would be in heaven when he died. It was also difficult to see this weak, frail, sick man struggling just to breath. I was very sad to see his family just watching the one they love slowly pass away.

When is the last time you were moved with pity over someone…specifically because they do not have a relationship with Christ and the very thought of them dying and living separated from God and heaven for all eternity grieved your heart?

Let’s be honest again. That compassion does not come natural to us. We get so busy and so inward focused that we forget about the lost condition of man without Christ. As a church we must never lose this priority of reaching out to people and looking outward. We need to remember over and over again the people without Jesus are like sheep without a shepherd. The problem is, many who are without Christ don’t know it and do not care. They are comfortable and used to living a God-less life. You and I all know that eventually lost sheep wonder off into another pasture and/or get caught in a thicket. So, our need is to feel compassion because of their need.

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