The preacher in the above graphic is emblematic of so many of us who possess dreams of revival and greater fruitfulness. Because of those dreams, we’ve made honest attempts to bear fruit, yet those attempts have often failed.
The one good thing about failure, however, is that it can be a catalyst for success. Over my 40 years of vocational ministry, I’ve learned from my own failures at least one secret to spiritual success. That is this: Do not ask God to bless your work. Rather, figure out where God is already working, and join Him in His work. The blessing will already be there.
Maybe that is at least part of what Jesus had in mind when He said:
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing (John 15:4-5).
I’ve certainly done my fair share of “non-abiding in the vine,” as proved by my lack of fruit in too many seasons. Perhaps you can relate.
So where is God working?
In last month’s e-teaching, I shared the undeniable fact that God is very much at work around the world, and probably to a greater degree than ever before in human history. That is no exaggeration. He’s reaching millions of previously-unreached people who live in some of the world’s spiritually darkest places through the means of “disciple-making movements” where disciples make disciples multiplicatively and generationally. Those new believers include former Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Animists, and Christo-Pagans. There is revival of unprecedented scale. It could well be the final harvest before Jesus returns.
Now wouldn’t it be tragic to be living, as a Christian, during this amazing time, and be oblivious to and uninvolved with what is happening? Can you imagine standing before Jesus and facing the fact that you lived during the greatest spiritual harvest in human history, yet you were completely uninvolved? That would indeed be tragic. And so my purpose for this e-teaching is to share how any believer, anywhere, can get involved in the current Great Harvest immediately.
I would suggest, first of all, that you learn all you can about what God is doing around the world. Below are six good books that could help to that end. I recommend first reading Miraculous Movements followed by Church Planting Movements.
The books above will not only provide you with a good overview of what God is doing around the world, but will also reveal the biblical concepts being successfully employed in today’s disciple-making movements. You will also learn, probably to your surprise—it was to mine—how deeply the modern Western Church is still stuck in the Dark Ages.
I would also encourage you to join the entire staff of Heaven’s Family this summer, July 17-18, in Pittsburgh, for two days of training on making and multiplying disciples by one of the world’s foremost authorities and practitioners, Curtis Sergeant, whose story I told in last month’s e-teaching. Through the efforts of Curtis and his wife, there are millions of people who are members of Jesus’ kingdom around the world (and he’s never preached in a stadium, by the way). You can register for the July 17-18 training by calling 1-855-333-2211 or by visiting HeavensFamily.org/Reunion (the deadline to register is June 28, 2019).
I would also encourage you to receive online multiplicative discipleship training through the “Zume (Zoo-may) Project.” Zume is the Greek word for yeast. If you can gather at least 3 other people, you can all receive ten weeks of online training for free that will help you reach your own world. (If you don’t care about the spiritual state of the unsaved people in your world, then you should be concerned about your own spiritual state.) My wife and I are enjoying a Zume group with friends every Sunday afternoon in our home.
If your own friends and family seem unreceptive to Jesus, that is not the end of possibilities. The Lord has been sending literally millions of foreign people to the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. They come as immigrants, legal and illegal, as refugees, and as international students. Every year, the U.S. admits at least a million legal immigrants and over a million international students. You don’t have to move overseas to be a missionary! Isn’t it tragic that God sends millions to us who come from Christ-less places, yet very few Christians are aware of this mission field in our midst?
If you want to help new refugees get themselves established in our culture, just Google “refugee services” + your state. If you want to reach out to international college students during the holidays (by inviting them to your home for a meal) or at other times, contact your nearest college or university for lists of ministries that are involved in international student ministry. International students are often the “cream of the crop” from their respective nations, but they spend holidays alone rather than travel long distances back home for just a few weeks. And they are also often very open to spiritual discussions. My wife and I once had a Chinese student sit down at our Christmas dinner table and blurt out, “Can you tell me about Jesus Christ?” It doesn’t get any better than that!
You can also pray. Pray with sincerity that God’s name would be hallowed, that His kingdom would come, and that His will would be done all over the earth, just as it is in heaven. Everyone in heaven knows Jesus!
You can pray that the Lord of the harvest will send more laborers into the harvest (and then say, “Lord, send me!”).
One phenomenon that characterizes every one of the hundreds of disciple-making movements around the globe today is an extraordinary commitment to pray. Why would God not answer prayers that everyone in the world would have the opportunity to hear the gospel? I posted on my Facebook page earlier this month a “Little Lesson” on Jesus’ “blank check” prayer promises that might encourage you to this end (by the way, are you my Facebook friend?):
On three occasions, Jesus made promises that He, or His Father, would do ANYTHING requested of them. For example, John recorded Jesus’ promise, “If you ask Me ANYTHING in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14; see also Matt. 18:19; John 16:23-24).
Are these amazing “blank check” prayer promises a means to realizing the American Dream? Or is there perhaps something in the Greek that would tell us that “anything” really doesn’t mean “anything”? Jesus’ “blank check” prayer promises have had a lot of people scratching their heads for a long time.
Take note that those astounding promises weren’t given to everyone. Jesus gave them to His disciples, those who, by His own definition, love Him supremely—more than their family members, comfort, material possessions, and life itself (see Luke 14:25-35). In fact, directly after Jesus promised, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” in John 14:14, He said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
Jesus knows it is safe to give “blank check” prayer promises to those whose hearts are His. They aren’t idolaters, or lovers of the world, focused on laying up earthly treasures. Rather, they are consumed with pleasing Him. Given the chance to ask for ANYTHING, their foremost prayer request is that God’s name would be hallowed. Their second foremost request is that God’s kingdom would come. Their third foremost request is that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:9-10). (And if their own lives don’t reflect what they allegedly desire for everyone else in the world, how could they pray such things without hypocrisy? In reality, only Jesus’ true disciples have a right to pray the “Lord’s Prayer.”)
Jesus’ disciples also desire and pray for things like more laborers for the harvest (Luke 10:2), and that believers would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will (Col. 1:9). They are kingdom-minded. They rarely think to pray for their own needs, as they know Jesus will take care of those things as they seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Matt. 6:33).
The wonderful thing is that, if we, as Jesus’ disciples, sincerely ask that God’s name be hallowed, that His kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, that He would send laborers into the harvest, and that He would fill believers with the knowledge of His will, He will surely grant our requests! Hallelujah! Seeing such prayers answered is what makes full the joy of true disciples (John 16:23-24).
Finally, you can also invest in those who are laboring in the harvest. I know of two such laborers who are reaching out to Somalian Bantu and Syrian refugees who have been re-settled in my home city of Pittsburgh. My wife and I could not resist financially supporting these laborers, but both still need help (email me if you want their contact info). God has been giving some of the Muslim refugees in our city dreams about Jesus!
You could also invest in ministries that are involved in disciple-making movements on various levels. Heaven’s Family is one. Another ministry I’ve grown to appreciate very much is called Big Life Ministries. Their mission is to “empower believers worldwide to reach and disciple their own.” You can learn more by navigating to Big.Life. As I write these words, I’m in Kenya at a conference, sponsored by Big Life, that includes indigenous disciple-making leaders from 22 African nations. Many are reaching previously unengaged and unreached people groups—groups you probably have never heard of, such as the Yao, Mwani, Macwe and Macua Nahara, all Muslim, in northern Mozambique.
All of these simple-church-planting leaders have made disciples who have made disciples to at least four generations. One of the conference instructors, Lee Wood from Florida, has planted 20 simple, disciple-making churches in Tampa, which in turn have planted 100 simple churches across the U.S., which in turn have planted at least 700 simple churches around the world. All through ordinary, non-ordained Christians! The same thing could happen in your city! (By the way, Lee will be joining us at our July 17-18 discipleship training in Pittsburgh, taught by Curtis Sergeant. Curtis originally trained Lee.)
These are exciting times. Whatever you do, do something! Get involved in the Great Harvest! — David