There are a lot of people to be reached yet.
After COVID-19 and waiting for people to “come back” to church, we realize that many people are not coming back. This is the “new normal” not only in our church but in many other churches. Many churches are asking: how can we get more people in the church?
I think the answer is clear and simple in the Word of God. We need to go and share the good news of Jesus. A lot of churches are stuck in the routine of just maintaining people in the church but not really going and sharing the gospel of Jesus. I believe this is a serious problem.
We see in the book of Acts how the priority of the church is sharing the gospel. In Acts 2:42-47, we see how the priority of this community of faith is sharing and learning about the gospel of Jesus. This causes more people to come to know Jesus and be part of the community of faith, later called the church.
At this time the church is just in Jerusalem and is really comfortable and excited about all the things that are happening. But there is something missing: the church is not fulfilling the mission of Jesus. Something needs to happen.
This is all good news. But for a moment the early church forgets about the mission that God gave to them before Jesus ascends to heaven. In Acts 1:8 we see that Jesus entrusts them to be his witness not only in Jerusalem but all around and to the ends of the earth. At this time the church is just in Jerusalem and is really comfortable and excited about all the things that are happening. But there is something missing: the church is not fulfilling the mission of Jesus. Something needs to happen.
Acts 8 is what happens. Persecution forces the church to go out of Jerusalem and go to different places and share the gospel of Jesus. I wonder, is COVID-19 the way that Jesus is reminding us that there are people that need to be reached yet? Did we forget that God wants us to take the message of Jesus to all people? We see in the rest of Acts how the church is obedient to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and they start sending people out to different places to share the gospel of Jesus. They send missionaries and they plant churches, and many people come to know Jesus. Can we learn something from the early church?
It is not time to be comfortable and just wait. If the early church had decided to wait until the persecution died off, we may never have known about the great missionaries like Paul and company. If the early church had decided to wait until things got better, I wonder how many people would never know about Jesus. We cannot get comfortable, and we cannot wait any longer until people come back or until things get better.
Now is the time to go and share the message of Jesus to all the people around us. Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected from the tomb, and he is the only way to the Father. Jesus is the message of hope that people need to hear, and you and I have a responsibility to share this message of good news. There are a lot of people that need to be reached yet, and we have the opportunity to do that. Are we ready to do it?
Church history teaches us that the church grows faster during times of persecution and epidemics. We have seen an attack on the faith, and yes, right now we have a pandemic in our world. This seems the perfect time to be intentional about spreading the gospel of Jesus. We can grow our churches and we can plant more churches, but we need to be obedient to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and be courageous. The early church did evangelism on a personal level. They shared the gospel with a lot of personal conversations with people about Jesus. I think we can replicate this in our communities. Do not wait any longer. There are a lot of people to be reached yet.
Frontlines is a column written by USMB pastors. The definition of frontline is “a person or thing that is a part of a leading position” and pastors are leading our local churches. In this column they provide insight into ministry and the USMB three core commitments: church multiplication and evangelism, leadership development and discipleship.
Daniel Rodriguez is the pastor of Iglesia Agua Viva, a USMB congregation in Omaha, Nebraska. In 2018 Rodriguez presented a Spanish-language LEAD One event on discipleship in Omaha and Fresno, California, as well as a workshop on discipleship at the 2018 USMB National Convention held in Salt Lake City, Utah.