Passion for Evangelism and Mission
I know that generalisations are nearly always a bad thing, but sometimes there is some truth in them. When my wife and I moved to the UK in the late 90s after 13 years living abroad, one thing struck me about the church in the UK: there was a marked decrease in interest in long-term, cross-cultural, global mission. I have not yet noticed a swing of the pendulum back again. Going up in a small assembly in Kent, mission and missionaries seemed to be central to what we did as a fellowship. Whether it was in the Sunday School, the regular prayer times for missionaries, or in receiving visits from people home on furlough. It was one such visit, when I was 18, which God used to fan into flame my nascent interest in mission.
A church fellowship which never spends time studying eschatology runs the risk of becoming inward-looking and self-centred, of being more concerned with the pastoral well-being of the people in the church, than of reaching out to others with the Good News.
A number of years ago, a woman in the church where we worshipped was diagnosed with a terminal disease. We were asked by the family to hold a special time of prayer for her, which we did. There is nothing wrong with that. But I was seriously challenged by one of the elders who asked why such a time of prayer, which was for physical healing, was so well attended while other times of prayer, for the eternal welfare of those outside of Christ, were so poorly attended.
If we as a national church are to see a return to the missionary and evangelistic zeal of the past, a rediscovery of eschatology and of the truth of the return of Jesus is needed.
If you are a church leader, what do you spend more time discussing and planning, the temporal comforts of the congregation or the eternal needs of those without hope?