A discussion on impacting lostness in the Triangle must begin with the question, “What does God desire?” 1 Timothy 2:3-4 tells us that God desires that all people be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Is God’s desire our desire? If so then we must ask ourselves how many people in the Triangle need to be saved.
Statistics tell us that there are more than 2 million people living in the Triangle. Of those residents it is estimated that 70 percent (1.4 million) are far from God and not willing to come to a church service if invited. In 2010, it was documented that more than 50 percent considered themselves “non-religious” and nearly 10 percent identified with a religion other than Christianity.
In the past seven years, both of these numbers have outpaced the growth of evangelical Christians in the Triangle. Also, we have yet to consider how many individuals identify as “Christian” might not actually be born again followers of Jesus walking in obedience to His commands.
After engaging hundreds of people over the past couple of years, I actually think the 70 percent statistic regarding those far from God is too low. You can have the best preaching, music, programs and buildings in Raleigh and not impact the majority of those in the community within walking distance of your church building.
Now, we must pause for a second and admit that these numbers pale in comparison to cities in countries like India. We must continue to emphasize, and go to such places. However, those of us who live and minister in the Triangle must take these numbers into consideration. While what we have been doing will reach 30 percent of the population, we must recognize that our cities and our context is changing.
The task is great, but God has done greater things before. In Acts 19:8-10, Paul is able to declare that in two years the gospel had been proclaimed throughout all of Asia (8-15 million people).
What is it going to take to see this in the Triangle? Are you willing to die for this? What is your church’s role? Is it willing to let go of treasured and comforting traditions for the sake of impacting lostness? We cannot keep doing what we are doing. Something has to change.
As we consider the great task of impacting lostness in the Triangle, we must first go to the Bible. The patterns of Jesus, Paul and the New Testament church are clear.
First, they committed themselves to prayer and fasting. Every day at 10:02 a.m. thousands of people across the world pray Luke 10:2. We pray that Jesus will raise up more laborers for the harvest. One can start by simply joining us in this prayer.
Second, they went to those who are far from God.
Third, they proclaimed the gospel when they were with those far from God.
Fourth, they took those who responded to the gospel and taught them to obey all that Christ commanded (discipleship).
Fifth, they gathered these individuals together for the sake of worship, care, accountability, teaching, prayer and mission.
And finally, they invested in, trained, empowered and released leaders who shepherded these new flocks and ensured that this biblical pattern for impacting lostness continued.
Every disciple of Jesus has the responsibility to honestly assess where he or she is in this process and begin laboring where they are. For many it will be simply making a list of those far from God and beginning to pray and fast for their salvation.
by Justin White / Contributing Writer / Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
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