ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–“The church is looking for better methods. God is looking for better men,” pastor and author E.M. Bounds once wrote.
There has never been a time in Southern Baptist history where we’ve had more methods to reach the lost. Yet when we look statistically at the impact we are having on our nation for Christ, we are losing the war. I’ve asked my friends at the North American Mission Board to confirm these statements. They did.
We are a people with many strategies and yet the gates of hell are standing strong. I know that is not the final result. Jesus made a declaration of the ultimate defeat of those gates. Yet I’m not so sure the American church is causing the gates to bow.
What are some of the reasons we are not taking the gates? One reason is a lack of urgency. When we live like there is a tomorrow, we always have one more day. We are supposed to be alert for the imminent return of Christ. Doesn’t that mean today?
I think another reason we are not bowing the gates of hell is apathy. If a church of 100 committed followers of Christ rose up and collectively decided to affect their community of 1,000, do you think the community would notice? Yet how many churches of 100 are meeting and no one knows what they do — except meet on Sundays and Wednesdays?
A third reason we are not bowing the gates of hell is a lack of focused prayer. On most Wednesday evenings, churches across our nation gather for prayer. However, I think we are a people who pray 90 percent of the time for the temporal and maybe 10 percent for the eternal.
Try this. Without giving your test away, tally the prayer requests the next time requests for prayer are given in your Sunday School class or Wednesday prayer time. How many requests are for individuals to be saved or people groups to be reached for Christ? Then tally how many requests are made for people who are sick, distressed or have a physical need? Which is requested more?
We ought to pray for those temporal needs. However, we ought to pray just as hard, if not harder, for the eternal need of salvation.
Bounds was on to something when he said God was looking for better people. What I don’t like to think is maybe he was on to me.
It is so easy to see what everyone else needs to do. But what about me? Have I lived with urgency today? Or have my schedule and my plans been more urgent than God’s plan?
What about my apathy? What if I decided to make a difference in my neighborhood of 100 or my family of five? Whom have I told about Jesus today?
God, are you pleased with my prayer requests? Have I been faithful to pray for communities and countries without Christ? Who is the person I am praying for who is undone with the Lord?
Lord, make me a better man.
Keith Manuel is an evangelism associate on the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s evangelism & church growth team.