While studying the visit from the shepherds to the manger scene in Luke 2 yesterday I came across an interesting thought that has been the focus of Independent Baptist churches in recent years. That thought is: Is Outreach Effective? and if not, Should We Continue Doing Outreach?
I have seen a number of churches stop and in some cases ban outreach. I was and still am horrified. I mean, I’m not a great theologian. I only made it half way through my masters degree at seminary. But it seems to me, the Great Commission at the end of Matthew should be all we need to know that whether or not outreach is effective we should be doing it!
Do we not want to see souls saved?
Let me tell what I believe the Holy Spirit taught me from the Shepherds. The lowest of the low in that culture’s standards.
Is the reason we don’t do outreach because we are:
a. Too busy for God?
When the angels came to the shepherds and announced our Lord’s coming as a baby. The shepherds responded “Let us go NOW.” They didn’t wait. They didn’t have something better to do. Oh, they had sheep to watch. That was pretty important. That was their livelihood. But they got up and went.
It was probably a good hike into town, too. Not just “in their neighbourhood”. Going to see the Christ child took some effort. Something, and I’ll admit this is me, too, we don’t want to do anymore. We’re tired after working all week. The frantic pace of our culture wears us out daily. But when the church calls do you go?
Or do you just have “one more thing to finish”? One more store to stop at. Here’s a thought. If the shepherds had decided to wait until a more convenient time, would the baby have still been there when they arrived at the manger?
b. Too “shy” to tell the good news?
The Shepherds left the manger scene rejoicing. They weren’t disappointed in a baby. There was no “That’s it?”
They had seen the Christchild!
They told EVERYONE on their way back to their sheep about what they had seen. The Bible says they “made known abroad” about what the angels had told them.
Do we tell people about Christ? I’ll be the first to admit that I hate door-knocking. I do not like trying to talk to strangers I don’t know. And I don’t like the proverbial “If you knew you were to die today…” sentence we use. It freaks me out, and if it freaks me out, then it would freak them out too! We have GOOD NEWS though! Are we sharing the good news? Or are we keeping it to ourselves? Why don’t we tell people about the good news?
So here is the question of the day:
How many other people showed up to worship the Baby Jesus because of the shepherd’s witness?
I think we all know the answer: None (at least that are recorded – sorry to whoever wrote “Bring a Torch, Jeannette Isabella” hehe)
Effective? Is that really the point?