Isaiah’s request, “Here am I. Send me!”, was the response of one who stood near to God in a vision (Isa. 6:1-10). God had asked, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” (v. 8). It was very much a SEND/GO commission that Isaiah received and to which he agreed. Eight centuries later, Jesus said to His disciples while they were in the district of Tyre and Sidon, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt. 15:24). Later, He would say to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mk. 16:15). Like Isaiah, they too received a SEND/GO commission.
Within a few years of the establishment of the church in Jerusalem, the SEND/GO commission was clearly extending beyond the apostles (Acts 8:1-4). From that point and going forward, the focus of the book of Acts shifts from daily life in the Jerusalem church to the effects of those who accepted the SEND/GO commission.
The expansion of the kingdom and the numeric growth of the kingdom in the first century cannot be separated from the SEND/GO commission. It’s a simple cause-and-effect phenomenon. Faithful brethren were sent, they agreed to go, and sinners all over the empire obeyed the gospel. It grew at the rate of foot speed! In the SEND/GO strategy, feet are vital. So long as Christians understood that, growth was unstoppable.
Today, there are many who no longer believe in the SEND/GO strategy of evangelism. It has been replaced by the Sit ‘N’ Wait plan. The Sit ‘N’ Wait plan is not at all a “do nothing” strategy. Often massive resources are consumed. It is more focused on being ready for those who, in reaching out on their own, find their way to the church buildings. It is a plan with the predictable results of minimal to no growth. Simply put, we’ve forgotten about the feet!
To the entire church family at Ephesus, Paul gave the exhortation, “Stand firm, … having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:14-15). In writing to the church at Rome, Paul reminded them that the prophecy of old was “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13; cf. Joel 2:32). He then went on to explain God’s strategy for empowering men to call upon the name of the Lord.
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” Romans 10:14-15
Feet! They just keep coming up!
We try to understand the decline that some congregations are experiencing, especially when they are in locations of great opportunity. We reason that it is because America is in the “post-Christian” age and people are just not receptive anymore. We excuse it by saying things like, “we have an aging congregation,” as if that absolves us from all responsibility. But rarely can one find a “young congregation.” Older Christians have always been a part of the local church family, and yet there are plenty of growing congregations with aging saints in their pews. In fact, the greater percentage of evangelistic work is carried out by the over-40 crowd. And in plenty of places the church is still growing in “post- Christian” America. How are they bucking the trend? They have never replaced the SEND/GO strategy of evangelism with the Sit ‘N’ Wait plan.
Glenn Colley’s article, “What Ever Happened to Personal Evangelism?” in the January 2017 issue of The Spiritual Sword, mentions the fact that he had just finished preaching a gospel meeting for a congregation in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. His summation of that congregation is, “East Main is a sound, thriving, growing church” (p. 12). In Murfreesboro? In December 2016? In a town of 117,000, where there are 20 congregations, there is still growth? Has no one explained to them that their tactics no longer work? I guess not. I guess they still subscribe to the SEND/GO strategy of evangelism. And it still works. Who knew?
Keep studying. DC Brown ©2017