God’s Plan(ter) is Better than Mine! – Luke 10:2
In Luke 10 Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” If we are seeing a “harvest” of new Jesus-followers that is smaller than we might hope, the problem is certainly not with the people who don’t know Jesus.
No, the problem is with a lack of workers—they are “few.” A common sense solution to this would seem to involve a strategy of publicity about the issue followed by recruiting of church planters from seminaries who would then spend years in training to start all the different kinds of churches that we need. That might be the solution…if we were limited to our own best thoughts. But I’ve come to completely distrust my own best thoughts.
A life of following Jesus that is based on our "oneness" with Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection has led many of us in a different direction. We have died to our own best ideas. I’m no longer limited to my best strategic planning.
It’s in “church work” issues like this that I’ve found living by God's resources (not mine) to be surprisingly counter-intuitive. We are in the middle of doing something that we know God wants; that is, seeing many people come to know Him and be encouraged in new churches. But just because the desired outcome is noble, does not mean there is not a wrong, even sinful, way of achieving it. Accomplishment, even "spiritual" accomplishment, appeals to our flesh, our “old man.”
As Romans 6:11 encourages us, we must daily choose to remind ourselves that we are dead to that sinful, pride-motivated thinking and alive to God. Free to let God live through us “as those who have been brought from death to life” (v 13).
Jesus lived a life of following the Father instead of planning and strategy. (John 5:30, “I can do nothing on my own initiative.”) So here, Jesus clearly tells us what to do rather than rely on our own initiative. We are to “ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field” (Luke 10:2b). God’s grace once again provides the very thing needed. What God provides is always perfectly suited to meet the need and perfect in its timing.
For at least a couple of years, my coworkers and I have been praying almost daily that God will send us people who are uniquely suited to reach all the different kinds of people that live in our very urban, very diverse area. We can, in fact, name at least 167 languages that are spoken in the homes in our one county. There’s no way for us to teach American missionaries all these different languages, have them find them, and finally, become active in evangelizing these usually hidden people groups.
So instead, God sends workers. He sends many from the harvest field back into the harvest field! These indigenous leaders are already perfectly prepared by God; no language to learn, no cultural barriers to overcome, no relationships to build from scratch. These workers that God sends are completely ready and certainly the most effective.
We also pray that God will give us the ability to recognize these workers that He is calling out. That is, we pray that the Spirit will guide us so that we are not led astray by our own preconceived stereotypes of who the best leaders might be and who “just doesn’t measure up.”
This is not just "spiritual"…it's practical. We've seen God answer our prayers in concrete ways. Just in the past few weeks we’ve seen God send potential planters to hipsters in a trendy urban neighborhood, to second generation Hispanics near downtown, to intellectual students at two universities, to rural suburbanites with lots of kids, to well-educated Africans, and to several groups of Spanish-speakers and African Americans across our area.
Wanting to see God's kingdom multiply through you or your church? We've seen proof that He wants to answer the very prayer He's guided us to pray–just ask!