Today, I read a report from our national director in India where he outlined a strategic process to consider for the future in regard to our work with pastors and churches. Our network of churches has grown to 1,400 in India, Uganda, Ukraine and Nepal in just two years. The potential for working with more is endless but funding is limited! The majority of these are currently in India. These are churches and pastors who as explained below have little to zero training and biblical knowledge that we are privy to here in the U.S. Yet they possess a passion that we often lack. For as much as we could “teach” them knowledge wise; they could teach us passion wise! They are also experiencing a dynamic that is very similar to the reality of the early church in the book of Acts that I believe we are also missing out on, due to our spiritual complacency.
It was really this reality and opportunity that first intrigued me about ServeNow and resulted in getting our church involved. In fact, it was through a generous gift from the church that put into motion the printing of NT bibles and the “Basic Things” discipleship booklets for distribution!
I so strongly believe that if churches (professing Christians) could catch the vision of; and have a passion and commitment to obey Jesus in fulfilling the great commission this is one great way to be a part of it. But I am convinced and deeply concerned that in many ways we are missing the mark greatly in America in regard to being sold-out disciples of Jesus and therefore passion in making disciples. When I read what our national director wrote that I share below I believe he hit it right on the head:
“Just before ascending up to heaven Jesus told His disciples to “go and make disciples …” which the early disciples as well as the early church at large had understood well, for they obeyed this command literally. They did it with such passion thinking as though that was the only duty or at least the most important duty they were expected to carry out in this world. The church grew, expanded, multiplied not just in Jerusalem and Judea; but throughout the then known world during the next 40 to 50 years’ time span.
Centuries have rolled down, and in the western world the church in this post-modern era perhaps has forgotten this great commission or not practicing as much as she should. The worship service has become a weekly routine program of the church just to fill the gap. The ‘church factory’ is not producing disciples any more. Because she has drifted too far away from the ‘Great Commission. However it’s interesting to observe that in developing countries in recent past the church growth has seen phenomenal high tide– thousands of people are added to the body of Christ in most intriguing situation.
Most churches started with one man or woman being won to Christ in a village. While they previously were Hindus, or Buddhists, or Muslims, or Animists, after hearing the gospel they became fervent believers, sharing their newfound faith with others. While these new believers in turn came to Christ through the sharing from and preaching over the Word of God, very few of these new believers have ever held a copy of the Bible in their own language in their hands. Many of the elderly cannot read, but the younger generation in each family can read and a New Testament or Bible or even a portion of the Bible in their language would go a long way. The growth of new churches is continuing month after month, but few, if any, Scriptures are provided for these new believers.
ServeNow exists to stand in the gap and fulfill the Great commission of making disciples. The “God’s Word for Gods New People” of ServeNow is one of its kind. The 28 basic booklets covering most of the important topics from the Bible are essential study tools that will enhance the spiritual growth in a believer’s life gradually turning him/her into a matured disciple of Lord Jesus Christ.” (Supratim Dey, ServeNow National Director of India).
We are finding that these same discipleship tools are needed in churches today in America. The difference however in many cases, is that there is a greater hunger and desire in the places we are working than there is here. They see their need; I am not sure we do. They have passion; we are distracted. They are hungry to learn and treasure scripture; we take it for granted. Consider the following recent testimonies we have received:
“I always wished there could be a simple guide to understanding the Bible and Christianity better. Today my wish has come true.”
“These believers reminded me of the first-century church. They worshiped the Lord with joyful hearts and were hungry for the word of God. They had no musical instruments or fancy sound system but their loud voices of praise reverberated through the whole slum. They partook of Holy Communion with joy and reverence, using a bottle of sweetened water and home-baked bread. They served us a humble lunch of rice and pickles but served it with love. When we distributed the “Basic Series Material,” those who could read clung to it as their dearest possession.” (Supratim Dey; National Director India).
“My church has been helped by ServeNow with the Basic Series materials and medical camps. The booklets that the church members have received have helped them grow stronger in their Christian faith and mature in Christ. Even the pastors and leaders are learning new things from the books.”
How can the church in America get back to the passion of the early church and that is seen in some parts of the world today? I am not sure what it will take apart from God greatly humbling us. It doesn’t appear we are humbling ourselves. It will take a movement of people discontent with the status quo and just going through the “church” motions thinking a Sunday morning service is sufficient to the life of a true disciple of Jesus. It will take a group of people willing to surrender and lay down their own personal agenda’s to come together to pray and seek God’s face. It will take a group saying “we are committed to one thing and one thing only; relationship and obedience to Jesus Christ.” It will take getting back to simply the bible and being led by the Spirit, rather than “American Christianity.” It will take being intentional about implementing Jesus’ instructions regardless of the changes we would have to make to our personal lives and currently way of operating.
The big question is do we have the desire, willingness and commitment? I fear it simply does not exist among the majority. However, great moves of God have never required the majority, but just a handful of totally committed believers.
May God stir the hearts of even a few who say “enough is enough” we are not going to just “sit here” and go through the “same old, same old.” We are going to make a move and who knows? Perhaps God will move on our behalf for his glory!” Perhaps it is time for “new wineskins” (Mark 2:22) that are really returning to the “ancient paths” (Jeremiah 6:16). May God grant us wisdom…and courage. (Read 1 Samuel 14:1-23 & 2 Kings 7:3-11 to stir your spirit to action!).
“This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.” (Jeremiah 6:16).
*Your gift of $5 enables us to provide NT scriptures to those who lack access and cannot afford their own. Every $5 can also provide the first set of the “Basic Things” discipleship resource booklets we have created. Every $500 equips an entire church! You can give online at: www.weservenow.org or send a check to: ServeNow, 5550 Tech Center Drive, Suite 302, Colorado Springs, CO 80919. There are also other ways to help us get the word out to others and to churches. Contact me for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.