There is a Harvest. So why aren’t there more laborers?
Much like any problem there isn’t just one answer – unless that answer is: Sin or Lack of Faith.
But even in saying sin- there are so many facets to it.
Not all the reasons are sinful. In fact, we must conclude God is sovereign over the sending of missionaries, since He is the Lord of the Harvest- so indeed it’s not just sin, but God’s sovereignty.
Which I suppose should bring much encouragement to us- that even our sinfulness cannot thwart God’s good plans.
This does not mean however, that we should be callous or indifferent- we still ought analyze. True, perhaps God wants to raise up leaders from within nations or within churches. This still does not excuse us to be lazy.
But do all Christians need to consider the reasons – or just those who are pastors and mobilizers?
Well, I do believe the command to go make disciples of all nations was given to each of us who follow Jesus – so we should be committed to seeing His kingdom grow, His harvest gathered, and thus committed to developing and sending laborers.
If we are going to pray for laborers, we should know what to pray about.
So what keeps people from the mission?
There be more or others, but this is what i’ve found.
- Lack of surrender
- Sexual sin
- Lack of support
First of all, it is apparent that many refuse to be involved in the mission. The task is difficult, requires sacrifice, leaving comfort zones, and dealing with the following on the list as well. It is much easier to say you’ll pray about it, than to get on the plane (though it may be easier to go than to be devoted in prayer).
Faith is weak. And idols of self and comfort rule. This affects a potential goer and a potential sender.
This of course is fairly obvious, but not to be overlooked.
If we are going to mobilize others to go, the first step is to raise their view of God, to capture their hearts with the glory of God, to embolden them with the power of the Gospel.
We can’t just call people to surrender or to stop being selfish. We need them to see God for who He is. His love, His compassion, His power, his glory.
Reality is for most of us our view of God is too weak, your understanding of the grandeur of the glory of God is too small, and your grasp of the Gospel is too limited.
You do not need to be motivated by what you can do, or by numbers- you need to see who God is and what He is doing and what He has done in your life.
Truly, one of the best ways to see that: is to surrender your life and get involved in the mission by sacrificially giving, earnestly praying, and/or getting yourself immersed in the mission by going.
- Now sin may be keeping many from the mission field- but not only does it keep people from going, it disqualifies.
There are many out there who have the motivation, the passion, the drive, the desire to go- but even drive and desire can be disqualified.
Just because there is a great need, does not mean we should just let anyone go.
The Missionary goes to harvest field, but also a battle field. They will face temptation and frustration. Sin will destroy them.
Now, all missionaries who go will still be battling temptation, and will sin. All sin affects us. But there are some that have greater impact and hold a stronger hold on someone’s heart. Namely sexual sin.
Sexual sin does seem to have greater emphasis in the Bible. I Thes 4:3. This is the will of God- your sanctification. Flee sexual immorality.
Sex is a gift from God. One that allows us to experience intimacy and joy. And thus it also perverts.
And unfortunately right now, sexual sin is rampant. It is widley accepted and highly addictive.
Sexual sin is disqualifying more and more of our young men from serving in ministry. And increasing among women as well.
Some may want to make standards lower and show more understanding to the boy who was exposed to porn at 10 and addicted by 12.
And sure, one may have made big strides. But we can’t allow our need to compromise standards of holiness and health.
We need to pray against the stranglehold sexual sin is holding over young men & women. We need to be aware and help them attack it. We need to start young and not wait until it is addiction. We need to confront the sin, we need to comfort the soul. Again, we need the power of the Gospel.
Unfortunately, many men have great skills, great knowledge of theology- yet, they don’t strive against sin in this area. It is often excused, accepted, or avoided. If you are developing or discipling others- you need to address this issue early and often. And if you are considering full-time ministry, you need to take sin seriously.
- Even still, some are sexually pure, yet money is an issue. Every year potential missionaries work on raising support only to fall short of their need and unable to go. Many more have to leave the field because they cannot sustain life on the amount they are given.
The church has become stingy. Always questioning how the missionary uses money, while feeling freedom to spend money as they choose, because they earned it.
But the reality is- the missionary doesn’t really like asking for money.
Many in fact will not go into the mission for that very reason – they do not want to raise support. They do not want to have to ask for money- it makes them feel weak or insecure or useless. “I should be able to support myself” “I am supposed to support my family.”
Many look at missionaries as mooches.
And who wants to feel that way?
Rather than face ridicule or rejection- many will choose to not go at all.
Others attempt, but with little result.
The money we have indeed is not ours, but God’s. It is not earned, but given by his grace. But these truths often seem like platitudes that carry little weight.
Will we raise support by faith? Give by faith?
Perhaps one will say that one can be involved in the mission without being a missionary. I agree. However, there is a need for people who can devote their time and energy into the mission. And there is a big difference between doing missions and doing evangelism. We need people who will go and take the Gospel to all corners of the world and into the darkest places of people’s hearts. And that takes concentrated effort.
Related but different is the issue of debt.
Because money is needed, when debt is involved, then the opportunity is further reduced.
Within Cru, the biggest reasons applicants are disqualified tend to be sexual sin or debt.
College students in the US are accruing more and more debt every year.
Some of that is frivolous spending. Much of it is rising costs of universities.
If you are a college student and you are thinking about doing full-time ministry, you need to consider how much debt you are incruing. This may mean taking a summer not to go on a summer mission, but to get a high-paying job to pay off some debt. It may mean looking to do some ministry at job that also pays you money.
It is sad, but you could work on your walk with the Lord, develop ministry skills, do well in school, have a fruitful ministry and then not be able to serve in a full-time capacity because of debt.
As a word of encouragement however, I am seeing more and more people work a few years, pay off debt and then go into full-time ministry. You do not need to make that decision to go into full-time ministry right after college. You can work a few years, pay off debt and then go into the field. Keep your vision fresh by giving while trying to pay off debt and being actively involved in prayer and connected to those in the field.
Lastly, sadly one of the biggest barriers to the mission field are parents. This article calls it the biggest barrier to the mission field. And they may be right.
Many support missionaries, celebrate them, pray for them – but would never want their own kids to go.
Some of that is reasonable, who wants their children to move far away or go to a place the do not know or understand. This is part of walking by faith.
If you’re wanting to go to the mission field and your parents show concern- say thanks, and engage in a conversation. Show respect to your parents, follow the Lord.
The call to mission doesn’t just affect the one going- but also the family, and also the givers, the pray-ers, the church.
Barriers are abounding, but God is bigger.
Regardless, God continues to work. Those of us who will engage in the mission will enjoy His glory.
Lets’s pray for a greater view of God, a turning away from sin, a church that supports & sends, God’s provision and more faith.
I hope you will get involved in His mission by developing laborers, sending, giving, praying, going, for your own growth and the glory of God among all peoples.