so christianity is exploding in south america, africa and asia.
this isn't news to me by any means, i've known this for a while and i've been excited about how the gospel is working globally. however, what i didn't realize (or chose to ignore at the time) was the fact that the parts of the world that are not included in this fact are relatively stagnant/floundering.
christianity is expected to decrease by 5% in europe by 2025.
north america is expected to show minimal growth by the same year.
i read these stats and can't help but think that there has to be more we can be doing to change north america and western europe.
now, i understand that the needs of different regions differ, and i this is the primary reason for the growth of these different areas. when you're broken down and hurting - that is where you find Jesus. so it makes perfect sense that missional success is greater in those less affluent areas. the less fortunate turn to Jesus in their time of need. the rich and comfortable don't feel like they have a need. their material needs are met and they're living perfectly comfortable lives - why would they need to think there is more to life?
i've always been encouraged to reach out to the hurting. feed the homeless. care for the sick. find the individuals who need Jesus and be an example to them. sit with the kid who sits by himself at lunch. and i agree with all of this.
but what about the popular kid at school with 300 friends? what if he needs Jesus? yeah, his needs aren't the same as the kid with no friends, but he still has a need that ought to be a concern to all christians - he still needs Jesus. or how about the CEO? what if he's living without Jesus? is that okay with us?
the best Biblical examples i can come up with so far are Zacchaeus and Matthew. Both were wealthy tax collecters and Jesus goes to them and calls them out individually and shows them what they're missing in life. i've gotten the "its easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven" argument, but here are two examples of it - and nothing is impossible with God. this actually strikes me as a lazy excuse. to act like we should ignore the upper class and focus on the needy based on this argument makes it seem like we need to aim for the easy converts first.
i guess in my mind there's nothing that says one man needs Jesus more than another. It's rather simple really, and if someone needs Jesus, i think it is our responsibility to address that.
but here is my big question: what does upper class ministry look like?
coming up with ways to reach those with needs is simple: fill those needs. they need food, water, shelter, clothing, a friend, and loads of prayer.
i wrote in an earlier post about my trip to the sprint center on tuesday night. during halftime nate and dan and i went to the concessions to purchase some food and the lady working there was just getting off work. She seemed stressed and angry about something, and while she was standing there waiting for my food to show up, i asked her "are you about done for the day?"
this was enough. she told me all about how she'd just gained custody of her grandchild because of some problems with this kid's dad and that she was getting off work at 10:30 and had to ride the bus over to pick the kid up...she went on for about 5 minutes. looking back i realize that she listed every possible thing this woman needed prayer for. i didnt even have to ask her what she needed. just listening was enough to make her feel better.
but ask a wealthy man directly what he would like prayer for, and he's likely to come up with nothing. so how do christians successfully display Jesus to those who aren't looking for Him?
how do we reach the kid with all the friends?*
how do we reach the CEO?
how can christians influence north america and europe like they're influencing elsewhere?
i guess just a lot of questions i wish i had answers to, and maybe it really is hopeless cause a lot of people i've talked to truly think it is. but i don't. if Jesus can take Zacchaeus aside and change his life in the course of one meal then so can we. i just wish i knew how to do it.
* - most that read this probably don't think about middle school witnessing opportunities, but i tend to include them in my thoughts so that i can address them with the students in my life. you can ignore them if they're of no consequence to you, but they're of serious consequence to me. middle school minisrty is my passion - maybe you can replace it with a question that relates more directly to your life. but thats my mindset.