“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18
Did you know that 150,000 people die in the world every single day? That means every three seconds five people in the world die. When we account for the total population of world Christians it equals out to EVERY SINGLE SECOND someone dies without Christ in the world! On the other side of that, every second of the day four babies are born in the world! We have an urgent crisis before us. An urgency we are reminded of every second of the day. This urgency must drive us to have a vision that urges, compels, and empowers others to take the Gospel to our local area and to the world.
The question I want to ask and answer with this article today is: Do you have a compelling vision that is empowering others to be Gospel sowers who are impacting lostness in their life?
I serve as the campus minister for Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Arkansas Tech in Russellville. When I think about our campus, I think about the 6,988 students who attend Tech, either full-time or part-time. I also think about how many of those students are close to God or far from God. Nearly 6,000—around 85%—of those students are far from God. (That number is found through average attendance of local churches and campus ministries and subtracting from the total number.)
Barna Statistics tells us that only 6% of people aged 19 and older come to Christ. If things do not change, that means only 360 of those 6,000 will come to Christ during college and the remaining 5,440 will graduate without a relationship with Christ and a low chance of ever coming to Christ.
Even more, 70% of incoming freshmen who claim to be Christians will graduate college with little to no faith. Those same freshmen who claim to be a Christian will also drop in regular church attendance by 20% by their junior year. That means simply opening the doors to a church or a ministry will not reach those students. Only a compelling Gospel vision that urges and empowers others to take the Gospel personally to others will do it!
God has placed us where we are to be the gap for those students far from God. Even though these statistics are daunting, we still have the hope of the Gospel. The Gospel will always penetrate the statistics and turn them upside down completely. My vision, and the vision I want to urge you to today, is a vision for ALL. In 2 Peter 3:9 it says that God ‘desires for all people to come repentance.’ If God’s heartbeat is for all people, then our vision must never be smaller than ALL.
You might be saying right now, “Adam I totally agree with that, but I do not know how to inspire and mobilize people towards that.” In response I would say that is a valid concern, not to mention, it is a problem that we all face. But I believe one thing that often happens is that we create our own roadblocks when it comes to casting a compelling vision for ALL. Here are a few roadblocks we create:
We do not cast the vision often enough. We must beat this drum over and over till people are sick of hearing it because it is only then they are finally hearing it.
We do not model the vision for them. It is not enough to say it, but you must take people with you as you do it. A huge mistake in discipleship and ministry is not taking someone with you!
We cast a vision for church growth rather than ALL. We all want to see our ministry or church grow, but that is not what Jesus tells us to do. He tells us to grow His Kingdom, make disciples, and send them to the harvest. He never tells us to grow our church or ministry, but if we seek to grow His, then ours will grow too!
Our rhythms do not reflect a vision for ALL. We don’t pause and evaluate if what we do regularly will actually lead us in a vision for all, instead we say it but fail to back it up with new rhythms or methods. (This is hard, but the only way forward.)
So, how can you build a compelling vision for your church or ministry for the ALL?
1. Know your brutal facts.
Brutal facts are those facts that help us to understand the need for the Gospel. As I stated earlier about ATU, those are brutal facts. How can you find your brutal facts? First, know the population in your city. To find the population in your city far from God go to sites like city data or pew research. My objective in finding this number is first identifying the number of churches in my area, mainly the evangelical, and get a close estimate of the average attendance, then subtract to find the number. You can ask for this breakdown from the Arkansas Baptist State Convention to receive a report for your city. You can also use sites like Bless Every Home to get these breakdowns.
2. Know your key verses.
There are many verses to use when building a compelling Gospel vision, but here are a few I like to use: Psalm 2:8, Psalm 46:10, Isaiah 49:6, Matthew 9:36-38, Luke 10:02, Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, Titus 2:11-14, 2 Peter 3:9, Revelation 7:9
3. Tell and celebrate stories
The things we celebrate, we replicate! We must celebrate and tell the stories of those who are faithfully sharing the Gospel and those that are coming to Christ. Celebrate those stories as much as you can from the pulpit, and you will see replication of them!
4. Cast the vision of what it will take.
The IMB used to have a slogan, WIGTAKE – What’s It Gonna Take. I still use that slogan to cast vision. One way I do that is by sharing the story of Acts 19:1-10. Paul is in Ephesus where he baptizes the 12 men who had been baptized by John the Baptist. From there, we see he goes and reasons in the synagogue for three months and then leaves after opposition there. Following that, he goes to the Hall of Tyrannus for two years.
In that time, it says that every Jew and Greek heard the Gospel. Historians tell us that somewhere between 8-15 million people lived in the province of Asia at that time where Ephesus was located. That means from those 12 men and Paul, in 2 years and 3 months 8-15 million people heard the Gospel! The question I pose after that is always: What is it going to take for us to reach our (number)? What will we need to die to to accomplish that?
As you begin to cast your compelling Gospel vision for ALL, what do you need to die to, to accomplish it? Your calendar? Your methods? Yourself? For us to accomplish this vision, it will not happen by us continually doing things as we have always done them. It will require sacrifice.
What will it take? What are you willing to give up to reach ALL?