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What Does the Bible Say About Outreach?

July 25, 2016

(July 25, 2016) Working in Christian Radio most of my life, our ministry was mainly focused on ministering to believers, helping them to understand God’s word and to grow in their walk with Christ.  Nothing wrong with that.  Growth and disciple-making are part of God’s plan.

While serving at WMBI/Moody Radio in Chicago, the board of HCJB asked me to consider serving as their president.  On a Saturday in Chicago, I took a whole day with the Bible and a pad of paper, asking God to show me what to do. 

As I was reading that day in the book of Romans, God opened verses to me that spoke clearly on His passion to reach people far from God.  I accepted those verses as God’s leading for my future ministry.

The words of Paul: “I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.” Romans 15:20

God’s call: “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.” Romans 10:20 

Jesus mission: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”Luke 5:32

God is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

And it’s not just New Testament stuff.  God’s heart for the lost permeates the Old Testament as well.  All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good.”  Is 65:2

 
What does outreach look like to every generation? 

We’ve been through several cycles.  In the first century it was travel, preaching and teaching throughout the Roman Empire.

After the invention of the printing press, it was writing, publishing, distributing, reading. 

It was the revivals of the 18th and 19th Century where hundreds of thousands heard the Gospel, repented of sins and received Christ as Savior.

It was the modern missionary movement that sent thousands of missionaries from North America and Europe to unreached places around the globe.

Then it was mass evangelism under Finney, Moody, and Graham, public events with tens of thousands attending and giving their lives to Christ.

Along with mass evangelism, in the early 20th century, ministries began using mass media: radio, film, TV--simultaneously reaching millions otherwise unreachable.

It was the charismatic movement and the Jesus People movement of the 20th century that caused thousands to follow Jesus.

Today it is increasingly Internet, satellite, mobile technology, and social media which is transforming the way we can reach out globally to mass audiences.

This “next generation” is using compassion evangelism, bringing rescue and reconciliation to the poor, the persecuted, the abused and the diseased of the world.

All of this has brought about the most rapid growth of Christianity in the history of the Church.  Seventy percent of those who have come to Christ in the last 2000 years, have come to Christ in the last 100 years.

 

Why does outreach matter? Why should we do it?

Outreach matters because it matters to God.  Jesus clearly stated His mission statement when He said: “I have come to seek and to save the lost.”   His mission should be our mission.  He looked at the crowds and had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  Our hearts should break for the things that break God’s heart.

Again, my call: “I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” 1 Corinthians 9:16

 

Why wouldn't we?  What stops us from reaching out?

There are many obstacles to having a passion for global outreach.  It’s a matter of focus, of seeing the whole world, understanding God’s plan for his kingdom.

Our materialism can get us so wrapped up in things, we don’t think about the lost people around us.

Secularism has diminished to emphasis on the uniqueness of the Gospel and the need to share the Good News.

A subtle universalism has crept into the church where many believe it doesn’t matter what you believe; “everyone will get to heaven somehow.”

Our own complacency; the tendency to let someone else do it.  Also our anxiety over personally sharing the Gospel to friends, family, neighbors, co-workers for fear of rejection, or people will think we’re weird, or a feeling of inadequacy in sharing or defending the Bible—all these things can get in the way of sharing the Good News.

Paul said it best.  “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?” Romans 10:14-15

But what will we do about it?