I was having a conversation with a good friend and one of our board members about a benefit golf tournament I played in recently for the Kiwanis. The chapter that hosted the tournament is a service organization pledged to reduce or eliminate neonatal tetanus (NT). NT occurs in many countries where deliveries take place in unhygienic circumstances, and would be eliminated by immunizing mothers with a tetanus vaccine that is cheap and very efficacious. In 1988, the World Health Organization estimated that 787,000 newborns died of NT and by 2013 that number had been reduced by 94% to 49,000. Kiwanis International, which has 660,000 members, is committed to serving children and their needs, and is making quite a difference in that area of need, as we see the reduction in NT worldwide. As I was talking about Kiwanis to my friend, he asked, “are you a member of Kiwanis?” I said no, but I answered that I am a member of the largest service organization in the world, the Church.
Last Sunday, our gospel reading was Luke 10:1-20. This is the text that we began our St. Louis ministry with in 1996, as we prayed about how God was sending us into “His harvest.” 2 by 2, with no apparent means of support, we wrote our “mission and ministry plan,” and called it the Luke 10 model of church planting. Since that time, while we have yet to plant another church, we have planted several new mission stations and are prayerfully keeping our focus on the mission of the Church, which is, by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, “to seek and to save the lost” (Lk 19:10).
I think the Church, unlike Kiwanis International, may sometimes lose focus in the face of such need. There are 7 billion people in the world, and 2.2 billion Christians by the last Pew report. “The harvest is plentiful,” but today are there few laborers? One would think that with 2.2 billion Christians in the world, we could no longer say that the laborers are few. But so much of the activity of the Church is not directed toward the mission of the Church, to seek and save the lost. We get caught up in social ministry, administration, or education. These things are important but only useful if it serves our mission. May the Church, in all that we do, keep our focus until that day that our Lord returns!
Our ministry still suffers from few laborers. We are blessed by 4 in Detroit, 2 in Atlanta, 3 in Florida , 2 in Kansas, 2 in Wisconsin, 40 in St. Louis. I’ve just written my quarterly letter to the members of our ministry’s congregation Chai v’Shalom, and noted that over the course of the next quarter, we have 34 opportunities for outreach and fellowship on the schedule already, including Sunday worship services. And while I don’t really consider worship services an outreach opportunity, they better serve the mission by helping us keep the focus on the mission of the Church and preparing us to go into His harvest! These are all among many opportunities to focus on our mission, to seek and save the lost. May all that we do serve that mission, and may we all rejoice that our names are written in heaven. Peace to your house!