My wife came home from leading our church's youth group last night with a revelation, "There really isn't a sense of urgency among our youth and church to reach lost people." I had to agree with her. We both grew up CRC and know our DNA well enough to know that most of our denominational brothers and sisters are very akin to this statement.
I've always felt that this phenomenon was partly due to the fact that most of the churches that started in the late 1800s in the USA and after the WWII in Canada were immigrant churches. The focus was about gathering those of like ethnicity and heritage to start a church. Wherever two or three Dutch Reformed people gather, there shall be a church. The main reason for starting new churches in a new land was not to reach the lost, but to foster a safe like-minded community of believers.
While the CRC in those days was exceptionally valuable to new immigrants and creating a community of believers with a Reformed focus, there was little urgency to reach people in the communities they lived with the Gospel. I'm thankful that this focus has steadily been changing since then and especially on the Home Missions front with new church plants which have also challenged the established church to rethink mission and especially discipleship.
But DNA is hard to change without the power of the Holy Spirit. There is still plenty of residual DNA left in regard to reaching the lost for Christ. It seems odd to me that a Christian can stay so separate from those who desperately need a relationship with Jesus Christ that they have little effect on their community or people's lives with the message of the Gospel. It is a great revelation that discipleship is not happening. And according to the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20, such attitude and practice is not okay and is unbecoming of his church and, I believe, unglorifying to God.
Let me tell you how small groups play a part in changing this. Move your groups to deeper accountability and mission and see what happens. Watch what the Holy Spirit does to the people in your group as you pray about your greatest needs and struggles with your own growth as disciples. Watch what happens to people when they take their focus off themselves and turn their concerns to those in need in your community. Suddenly the lost matter. Tears of compassion well up in your group members as they recount their latest time of service to the homeless or to a neighbor who just lost their job and are in financial straights, or as they share stories of people who need Christ in their work place. The Holy Spirit is doing a work of disciple-focusing in the people in your group and it becomes infectious and more enticing than any drug. I'm seeing it begin to happen in my own church.
I think the small group is the best place to begin an intense focus on the Great Commission. Together you walk through your greatest fears and struggles in regard to reaching out to the lost; where your own heart is in the whole matter. It's not an adult education class where you just talk about how it's done, but rather a lab for growing disciples and inevitably developing the sense of urgency that the lost matter to God (see Luke 15) ... and now to you and your group members as well. Now think what can happen in your church when this begins to happen in all your groups.
'til next time.