Summary: Jesus would have us as a local church to get involved in outreach for Kingdom growth.
Reaching Out in Love
I Thessalonians 2:8 (New Century Version) “Because we loved you, we were happy to share not only God’s good news with you; but even our own lives.”
A year ago we did a survey of 350 homes in our community. In our survey we asked several brief questions:
1. How long have you lived in this community?
2. Are you currently involved in a local church?
3. What could our local church do to better meet the needs in our community?
4. In your opinion why don’t more people attend church?
5. Do you have any prayer requests?
On the average about one family out of ten were involved in a local church. About one family out of twenty-five requested prayer. Most said they had no time for church. Sunday was their only day to shop and take care of their home and personal needs.
Jesus would have us as a local church to get involved in outreach for Kingdom growth. Jesus would say to us what he said to his disciples: “Do not say, ‘Four months more then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
No place in the New Testament does Jesus say to the unbelieving world. “Come to Church.” He does say to all Christ-followers – “Go into all the world.”
Jesus doesn’t want us to be satisfied with little or no harvests. Jesus wants us to reach out in love and bring people to Jesus.
Preparing for harvest is hard work. I grew up in a farming community in Gypsum, Kansas. I’ve spent many hours working on farms, baling hay, tossing bales, plowing fields, and harvesting wheat.
A good harvest is preceded by a lot of hard work. You have to prepare your fields for planting grain. First you plow the ground, then, you disc and harrow the ground. Then at just the right time you drill and plant the grain. You wait for adequate snow and rain. Then in Kansas around the first of July when the grain is ripe you combine the wheat. Harvest time has a brief window of several weeks.
If you harvest too soon the grain is too soft and can spoil. If you wait too long the grain becomes hard and shatters when it goes through the combine. You work from sunup to sundown to gather the grain.
My dad grew up on a farm and they harvested wheat with a threshing machine. They had to cut the wheat and take it to the steam-driven threshing machine. Today you can cut wheat in a combine with a 20 foot header, sit in an air-conditioned cabin and have the radio playing music, and computerized equipment, producing a greater harvest than before the combine was computerized.
As a local church we should not be satisfied to go through our routine of ministry programs without seeing people come to Jesus.
There are many metaphors that we might use to describe the local church – a hospital for the healing of human hurts, a Lighthouse, a Mission outpost, or a community of loving and caring people.
The theme for the 40 Days of Community for this week is “We Reach Out Better Together.” Philippians 1:5 “We are in partnership with the gospel, spreading the good news about Christ.” (NLT)