Monday, August 11, 2014

Ed Stetzer: The Problem With the Harvest is Not the Harvest

It’s a fascinating thing. When Christians discuss evangelism, we almost always focus on non-Christians. We talk about how hard it is to share Christ with them. They don’t want to listen. Their hearts are hardened. They’re too secular.

We make it sound like the harvest is the problem.

When talking about the harvest 2,000 years ago, the word Jesus used to describe the harvest was “plentiful.” He saw the problem lying with the workers — they were few. Despite our attempts to shift the blame onto the harvest, the situation is the same today as it was then.

The fact is countless people are open to the gospel. Stat after stat, which I will point out shortly, tells us so. But first, let’s listen to the words of Jesus.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”

Let those words sink in. Let them sink deep into your heart and mind.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”

It’s stunning to me that the disciples did not immediately get up and go after hearing those words. Jesus was talking about them.

And He’s talking to you.

The Harvest

All of these thoughts are swirling through my mind as I write. I’ve just traveled to meet a dear friend. Someone I’ve known for decades. He’s a good person, a spiritual person even. He believes in grace and God’s love, but he doesn’t yet acknowledge that all of the love and grace of God is personified in Jesus. He doesn’t believe he needs Jesus to know God’s grace.
He doesn’t know that, only because of Jesus, can we respond—by grace and through faith—to the love of God made clear in Jesus’ death on the cross for our sin and in our place.

He doesn’t know those things, so I just shared it with him again. We laughed, we prayed and I left. I flew back home encouraged he’s heard the gospel, but also all too aware that he needs someone else to tell him. He needs to hear the gospel from someone in addition to me.

So, as Jesus commanded us, I pray. I ask the Lord of the harvest to send someone to him. A neighbor. A friend. Maybe you.

The Stats

There are people all around us who don’t yet realize Jesus came and died for them. Depending on how you count, maybe 1 in 5 Americans have a commitment to Christ that is real and life changing. That means 4 in 5 do not.

That’s a lot of lost people.

But don’t miss the fact that about 1 in 5 of Americans are committed believers. All of those believers are commanded to do the work of evangelism:
to share the gospel
to go and make disciples
to show and share Jesus to a lost and hurting world.

But few of those believers do those three things.

According to our research in the
Transformational Discipleship Assessment, the typical churchgoer tells less than one person how to become a Christian in a given year. The number for more than half of respondents was zero. The second most frequent answer was one. In other words, workers are few.

Ironically, non-Christians are open to the message that Christians seem hesitant to share. Of the people who don’t go to church, 78 percent agree (somewhat or strongly) that, “If someone wanted to tell me what she or he believed about Christianity, I would be willing to listen.”

The harvest seems at least willing to listen while the workers don’t seem as willing to talk.

The Workers

Nothing has changed since the day Jesus first spoke about the workers and the harvest. We live in a mission field with a generally unengaged mission force.

But it’s personal for me. It’s personal for the people who are lost. Is it personal for you?

If so, go. Now. Tell. Share.

Ed Stetzer (
@EdStetzer) is the president of LifeWay Research and co-author of the new book Transformational Groups .

1 comment:

  1. How true, I have been through several training programs for witnessing. I still feel incompetent to witness. I don't want to mess up anyone's life. So I don't! I am reminded by the Holy Spirit of this almost daily. Still I don't.