And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks [Ac. 19:10].

If you are going to reach the lost in your community you need to endure. Paul began his efforts to reach the lost of Ephesus primarily at the synagogue. After three months, the Jews who rejected the gospel prevented Paul from proclaiming the message at the synagogue. Paul then moved his ministry hub to the school of Tyrannus where he reasoned daily with the disciples and those who were curious about the gospel. And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. It would not be difficult to imagine Paul’s disappointment when he was prevented from sharing the gospel at the synagogue. Similarly, Paul could have been frustrated when he returned to Ephesus to find only twelve men who were disciples [19:7]. Nevertheless, he persevered and endured and the effect was remarkable! In only two years the gospel had spread from Ephesus so that both Jews and Gentiles throughout the Roman Province of Asia [modern Turkey] had been engaged with the gospel.

Enduring during struggles:

To truly grow the Church you must engage and reach the lost with the gospel. Transfer growth of believers doesn’t grow the Church. Reaching the lost of your community is difficult work in the best of conditions. Furthermore, in areas where the Christian worldview represents a small minority or there is no heritage of a gospel worldview, the soil is even more difficult to work in. Reaching the lost requires endurance to overcome the struggles.

Reaching the lost requires endurance to overcome the struggles.

Warren Wiersbe wrote “In Praise of Plodders” to highlight the effectiveness of enduring Christian leaders. The title is taken from the life of William Carey who is generally regarded as the “father of modern missions.” Carey described the essence of his effectiveness to the capacity to be a plodder, “I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.” C. H. Spurgeon observed, “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”

Once you know that Christ has called you to a place you need to continue to live on mission to engage and reach the lost of that community until you know that Christ has moved you to another community.

Once you know that Christ has called you to a place you need to continue to live on mission to engage and reach the lost of that community until you know that Christ has moved you to another community.

My pastor, Chuck Smith, was renown for encouraging pastors and leaders to, “Just give it six more months.” In essence, a leader who was sent from Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa [CCCM] would be discouraged and contact Pastor Chuck. The leader was ready to give up and throw in the towel and wanted to return home to CCCM. Chuck urged them to endure another six months and see what Christ would do. Six months would pass and the discouraged leader would contact Chuck again and ask to come home. Again Chuck urged them to continue the work of an enduring farmer and wait for God to bring the increase. More often than not, by the time two years had passed the calls stopped coming. By the grace of God, the enduring leader was gaining some traction and the work was moving forward and gaining momentum.

Enduring during success:

It may seem counter-intuitive, but success in ministry can be an obstacle to reaching the lost of your community. Church planters are highly motivated to engage the lost and reach them with the gospel. Planters and their core team leaders during the early years of starting a church expend considerable energy to engage and reach the lost. The mission of engaging and reaching is not only a stated priority but it is an actual practice. So leaders look to engage neighbors, co-workers, fellow students, baristas, soccer moms, strangers at the pub, etc. Then leaders share their experiences with others at the church, and other followers are motivated to engage the lost. As the church experiences greater success and the number of believers grow, the leaders become more focused on caring for the needs of the church and less focused on personally engaging the lost.

As the church experiences greater success and the number of believers grow, the leaders become more focused on caring for the needs of the church and less focused on personally engaging the lost.

Thus, the leaders’ experience and stories shift, and the church culture shifts with it. More and more relationships are developed with believers and fewer relationships exist or are created with the lost. Generally, the new converts have more connection to unsaved people and they have great potential to engage the lost. But rarely do leaders model engaging and reaching. They may talk about the priority but often neglect to put the behaviors into practice. For a leader to effectively reach the lost you must endure not only struggles, but also success.

 

Lifework:

  1. As a leader or prospective leader how did you engage the lost in your community in the last 60 days?
  2. How did you share the experience with other followers of Christ that you influence to encourage them to engage the lost?
  3. Pray for boldness and wisdom to engage and reach. Plan to allocate time weekly to engage. Participate in the mission of Christ. Proclaim the experience to others.

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