IMAGINE A MILITARY.........
IN WHICH the new recruits go through basic training ... "Boot Camp" if you will ... as follows.
They spend several weeks sitting in a classroom and learning things. They study how to fly a plane, steer a battleship, fire a cannon, all those things the military does to defend and protect the USA. And then, after the final class, tell them "OK .. there's your battleship (or artillery or airplane or helicopter, atomic bomb, or whatever). Go use them somewhere.
That wouldn't make much sense, would it?
It wouldn't, to me, either.
But that is precisely what happens in most churches! We attend on Sunday mornings (and evenings, if we have services then) and we attend on Wednesday nights, and that's about it. Oh, we do occasionally have "confrontational witnessing programs" in which we teach people a system and then go out knocking on doors, and take a "Spiritual Opinion Poll". Which it really isn't, only serving to get us talking to people about Spiritual matters.
When I look at the trends in the church ... particularly SBC churches ... over the past few years, it does not seem that our system is working any better than the hypothetical Boot Camp I mentioned above. Which, incidentally, no military I know of would ever do, as it is ludicrous on its face.
Add to that the fact that churches are eager to send people to foreign lands on mission trips, to witness to folks over there. They're motivated by the Great Commission, to go into all the world. Well, it occurs to me that we are already in all the world, and that where we live is already the "uttermost part" referred to in Acts 1:8.
When the Great Commission refers to "Go...", the applicable word in the original language is "poreuo", which translates as:
- To lead, carry over, transfer
- To pursue the journey on which one has entered, to continue on one's journey
- To follow one, that is, become his adherent, to lead or order one's life
That sounds as if we're supposed to do whatever is instructed where we are .. where we're going. Not necessarily to travel to "the uttermost parts of the world". Fact is, we're already there!
But when I look around the church, I don't see a lot of programs designed to teach people how to speak of Jesus to folks they are already talking to. And I can see some reasons why people need to be taught that!
For one thing, there's the fear of failure. I don't think that's a big hindrance, since most folks know .. at least I hope they do ... that when someone rejects our witness, they're really rejecting Jesus and not us personally.
The other thing, and perhaps even bigger, is that people fear success. For one thing, if you tell someone how Jesus saved you, and they say "Tell me more", we really ought to be prepared to tell them more. And that requires that we be taught.
Just think: If you prayed over someone in the hospital, and they were miraculously healed, wouldn't that change your life? I mean, how could you refuse to go pray, the next time someone you know is hospitalized? If you tell someone about Jesus and they are saved, how could you not tell the next unsaved friend you meet?
Yes, "success" in Spiritual matters carries with it some obligations.
Add to that, the fact that the devil will always whisper in your ear, later, and it's not unexpected that folks would be reluctant to carry on. When the devil asks you if you are certain you told them right, or enough, or whether you're sure the person actually meant it, it can raise red flags in your mind.
Unless you also recall what the Apostle Paul said:
1 Corinthians 3:6 & 7: I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God Who causes the growth".
So we have a couple of choices. We speak of Him, in which case God may give growth. Or we don't speak, in which case we cannot expect anything to happen. It's our choice, and the lack of "credit" for what happens should be no more discouraging in our journey than that fact that we're not flying the airplane would kill the pleasure of flying over the magnificence that is the Grand Canyon.
What do we need to do? Simple. Train people. The same way the military does. Hands-on. Practice. Make our instructions .. the actions we need to take .. as second nature to us as they would be to an Army Ranger.
We are, after all, in a battle. God said so.