Summary: When Jesus talked about a "church growth" plan, He told the disciples, first and foremost, to pray to the Lord of the harvest.
Help Wanted Prayer Challenge Reloaded
January 8, 2012
The unemployment rate has been in the news a lot. As our nation’s, and indeed the world’s economy struggles, businesses are challenged to make enough to pay the workers they need to do the job. So some businesses make do with less help than needed, and some are challenged to stay afloat at all.
Yet, even in the midst of all this, you also hear about companies that seem to have a hard time finding qualified employees. These companies are going to extraordinary means to find the right people, the right match, for the kind of work they do.
The old methods of putting out a help wanted sign aren’t enough for these companies. There’s another kind of work that there’s plenty of, too. This work includes all kinds of different jobs, all of which are important, and there are really only two qualifications:
you must be a follower of Christ, and you must have a willing heart.
A little over a year ago, the elders issued to the congregation a challenge from the scriptures. A challenge related to where we are as a church, and where we believe God wants to take us.
This morning, to use a sports analogy, we’re not going to rebuild, we’re going to reload. To begin the New Year, we’re going to look at that challenge, and see what’s changed, and what hasn’t changed.
Hudson Taylor was a pioneering missionary to China. When he did his first term in China, he saw the huge need, and was overwhelmed with the billions of people who had never heard the gospel. He had a strong desire to develop more Chinese missionaries. It was a huge task, and he knew he needed help. At home for a furlough, he studied the Word of God, and He prayed. He wrote this:
In the study of the divine Word, I learned that to obtain successful workers (what was needed were), not elaborate appeals for help, but first earnest prayer to God to thrust forth laborers, and second, the deepening of the spiritual life of the church, so that men should be unable to stay home. Hudson Taylor
Isn’t that a great picture of what we’ve been trying to do this past year? Earnest prayer to God to thrust forth laborers. A corresponding deepening of the spiritual life of the church. The result being that, wow, think of this – people are unable to stay home. They would be, instead, compelled by God to join the task – to go into the harvest.
When we first looked at the needs we have as a fellowship more than a year ago, we noted that, if you have a need for more help, one thing you wouldn’t do is just sit back and say, oh well, we don’t have enough people to do the work. Let’s just hope we don’t get any more business.
We remembered that, when Jesus walked the earth, He had plenty to do, and He did the work that God gave Him to do. But He, too, saw a need, and gave to His disciples, and to us, the means to the end of finding the solution to this need.
Matthew 9:35-38 (NIV) Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."
We see some key themes outlined in this passage. First, we see that the harvest is plentiful. In other words, as Hudson Taylor clearly saw in China, and as we can see here when we look around at what God is doing through this little church, there’s plenty of work to be done. In this context, it means there are plenty of souls to be saved, and needs to be ministered to.
This passage tells us that anyone working in some capacity in the harvest will not get bored because he or she doesn’t have enough to do. There is no unemployment rate to worry about in God’s Kingdom.
Then, we see that, though there’s plenty of harvesting work to be done, there are not enough people to do the work. There are more people needed to serve as workers in the harvest, because the crops need to be harvested in a timely manner, or the harvest will spoil.
We also see who the boss is – not just the boss, but the owner. Verse 38 says it’s His harvest field. It’s the Lord’s harvest. It doesn’t belong to anyone but Him. It doesn’t belong to the church leadership, and it doesn’t belong to the congregation. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “I will build my church.”