–April of 2001
Recommitting to the Great Commission
Standing before the open door of this new millennium, the church has never faced so many challenges on so many different fronts. Rather than moving forward as salt and light, our response has been paralyzed by uncertainty and fear. It has been easier for the church to look inward toward developing inner piety than to look outward with the intent of sharing our faith with the world. However, it is from this inward focus that the Holy Spirit faithfully seeks to turn the church. Those He turns will become the missionaries of this our present day
What should the church expect to confront? The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has projected four major challenges or trends for the church in the 21st century.
1. Massive urbanization. This century opens with a population of approximately six billion people, half of whom live in large cities. Half of that number is under 25 years of age. The holiness church has become far too comfortable in suburbia and has in all reality lost touch with the inner city. To fulfill our calling and remain relevant, we must reconnect and re-engage the population of the world’s great cities with the gospel.
2. Aggressive secularism. Secularism has turned former Christian nations into post-Christian countries. Its onslaught has affected the emerging nations of Southeast Asia, and economically strong countries like South Korea, where one Korean elder said, “Materialism is eating the heart out of Korea’s prayer life.” Secularism roots God out for economic prosperity and so-called intellectualism. These are two fronts the church must face with answers.
3. Expanding non-Christian religions. The expansion of Westernize has created militant and aggressive propagation of non-Christian religions. Hinduism and the Muslim religion are enjoying significant growth even in the United States. Though these two religions are not typically evangelistic, they have become so, due to the influence of the western world and its threat to their way of life. The church can no longer ignore these as Eastern problems, but must prepare to evangelize those who embrace Eastern religions on Western soil.
4. The rise and fall of new political ideologies. The fall of communism almost caught the church unprepared to move through the opening in the iron curtain to evangelize a new frontier. China or the Middle East could be next, or it is also possible that doors that are now open may quickly close. The church must be sensitive to the Spirit and ready to move in either direction.
Some Things Never Change
Though these and other challenges will always confront the church, some things will remain the same. God has not changed, nor has the need of every human heart. The gospel is still the answer to the deepest need in all of our lives, regardless of culture or political persuasion. God has offered no other cure than the cross of Christ and its redemptive message.
The Great Commission hasn’t changed. We are not commanded to understand all the challenges of tomorrow, but we are commanded to confront those challenges with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and do so in every corner of the world.
Equipping for the Task
If the church of Jesus Christ is to meet the challenges of the 21st Century, then those of us in the church must move quickly to restore the primacy of evangelism and recommit ourselves to the Great Commission. This issue of the Revivalist unveils part of the plan we are implementing here at GBS to renew our historic commitment to world evangelism with an emphasis that permeates every aspect of campus life.
Let me challenge you and your church to re-engaged in evangelism. The effectiveness of the church lies in her faithfulness to the commission. The “Spirit and the Bride say come…”
Let’s add our voices to the chorus and call men and women everywhere to repent and receive the Gospel.