To multiply Bible-based Christian fellowships and congregations which equip and nurture their members and grow throughout Australia and beyond.
In Luke 10 we read how Jesus sends out the seventy-two to go ahead of him to every town and place he was about to go. Before they leave Jesus reminds them: “The harvest is plentiful...”(2). Picture Jesus looking over the ripening wheat fields on the plains of Israel. He gives an object lesson to his followers: “Look around you – the fields are white for harvest and the harvest is plentiful.”
Look around Australia! As of today there are over 24,000,000 people. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there is an overall total population increase of one person every 1 minute and 37 seconds. Every three years the population of Australia grows by a million people. We are a growing nation. The studies on Australia by the Natural Church Life Survey report to us that only 9% of the Australian population attends church. In 1991 there were 11,074 congregations – 1 church for every 1561 Australians. A decade later, 2001 there were 10447 congregations or 1 church for every 1800 people. In 2006 there were 10,100 churches or 1 church for every 2079 people. The point is this: we are falling behind. Just to keep up with population grow we need to plant 1000 new Christian churches every three years. The reality is that the Australian population is growing while the number of churches are declining. Fewer and fewer people are attending church.
We could moan these statistics or we could echo the words of Jesus: “The harvest is plentiful.” The mission field is so huge. There are so many of God’s scattered children who need to be gathered into his growing family. As churches we have a huge opportunity to join in God’s mission in Christ to reconcile the world to himself. The harvest is plentiful. Just look around in your suburbs, the neighborhoods where you work, shop, and worship. There are millions of men, women, and children for whom Christ died – prodigals waiting to come home.
This is what the church is all about – it is about being missional – forming and reforming to reach the lost for Christ. This is not just something we do; this is who we are! We are a missional community seeking to fully participate in God’s mission in our various contexts. We are a church reforming to reach the lost for Christ. The harvest is plentiful.
But the workers are few! There is a huge need in Australia for new churches. Planting new churches is the most effective evangelistic tool for reaching people and whole communities for Christ. This was true in the days of the apostles; this is affirmed today by experts in church growth. If we are to reach the millions of lost in Australia and beyond – as the Christian Reformed Churches of Australia we need to plant many, many new churches.
There is also a huge need among the Reformed churches in Australia for ministers, evangelists, youth workers, chaplains – well trained persons, ordained, non-ordained, full time, part time, voluntary – the workers are few. At every level of congregational life we need to identify and recruit all members into the evangelistic task of the church. We need to encourage our sons and daughters to take the call to ministry – some will go to college or seminary, others will participate in a Ministry Training Strategy (MTS) apprenticeship, and there will be many who will fill in a gap year by taking an internship. Parents need to challenged to see full time Christian ministry as a marvelous opportunity for their children – the workers are few.
So where do we begin? We begin as Jesus taught us – we begin with prayer. As Jesus sent out the 72 in Luke 10 he urged them to pray: “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (2) As churches this is where the fourfold task begins – it begins with prayer. We are to call upon God for such an outpouring of his Spirit that we as a denomination get serious about being missional – forming and reforming to reach the lost for Christ. We are to be in much prayer that we as member churches get serious about being missional – forming and reforming our churches to reach the lost for Christ. It begins with prayer.
And then we need to go! Yes go! In Luke 10:3 Jesus just says one word: "GO!" It is a command. That word is repeated in the NT over and over again where Jesus tells us to go - go preach the good news, go heal the sick, go set the captive free. Go and make disciples of all nations.
You don't have to go outside of Australia, or outside of Queensland, or even outside your own neighborhood to reach the lost for Christ. You only need to go outside of yourself. As churches we need to go outside of ourselves. As a denomination we need to go outside of ourselves. For it is not about us, about our programs, our buildings, our agendas, our likes and dislikes. It is all about the mission of God – to engage the world and proclaim the reign of God and call people to be reconciled to God through Christ. It is all about Jesus! Let us go!