bits from bob....
I likely do not have to remind you. We are getting further and further behind in our efforts to tell the world the good news of Jesus Christ! In country after country, fewer and fewer, smaller and smaller percentages are Christians. The bright spots are the exception to the rule.
I can tell you about a few of the countries I have visited in the last decade or so. In New Zealand, there are perhaps 1000-1500 Christians in about 20 congregations, in a country of 4 million. In Costa Rica, there may be 1000-1200 Christians in 26-28 congregations, in a country of 4 million. In Honduras, there are about 250 congregations in a country of 6.5 million. Perhaps there are 10000 Christians (13000 is 1/5 of 1%). In the department of Olancho in Honduras, 40 congregations have a membership of perhaps 2000-2500 Christians out of a total population in the department of 500,000-1/2 of 1% (.005).
In the United States, we are not making much headway. About three-fourths of our congregations are plateaued or declining. Perhaps as many as half are clearly declining. If 25% are growing, only half of those are growing significantly. What we need is continuing, steady, and significant growth-growth that can continue year after year. We need churches that can grow at decadal rates of 10%, 25%, even 50%. Most churches do not have specific growth goals-whether annual, 5-year, or 10-year. The difference between growing churches and plateaued or declining churches is no more than 1-2 baptisms per year per 100 members. I issue the challenge, believing that there are those who will respond. Who will begin in earnest to share the good news of the gospel with the lost and help reverse the trend?
What is the evangelism or outreach goal in your church? We witnessed 243 baptisms in 11 years in Lansing, Michigan. There were 58 baptisms in the last four years we spent at Fort Gibson-the next year the church had 45 baptisms through a Larry West campaign. Perhaps these numbers are encouraging to you, and certainly they represent a significant increase over the experience of many congregations, but we will not reach the world in the way we are doing it. What must we do?
May God give us courage, determination, and the commitment necessary to begin to grow again, both in our local churches in the U.S. and in our mission efforts around the world.
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