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Monday, December 30, 2013

Some non-traditional ideas about evangelism

  A couple of years ago, I wrote a series of two-minute commentaries for radio on ideas drifting around simple, organic church.  Today, I am reposting one which is made up of facts from Steven S. Lynenga's thesis, the text of which has a link at the bottom.  Just as a note, I have read the thesis, and it mentions just about every notable book on Western non-organizational church up to that point in time.  

2152—Information about evangelism

            My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.  Today, some statistics, out of the work of Steven S. Lyzenga that I have quoted in previous blips, which should be food for thought:

Don Richardson, the famous missionary author of the book Eternity in Their Hearts, observed that one of the biggest problems in the Church today is its penchant to focus on micro themes in the Bible, themes that “offer worms-eye views of brief passages of scripture,” instead of macro themes that “offer eagles-eye views of major Bible themes.”  He went on to say that there are really only two macro themes in the Bible, both taken from God’s mandate to Abram in Genesis 12:2-3: (1) we are blessed (the top line), (2) to be a blessing (the bottom line). This theme is so prevalent in Scripture that
there are 395 passages in the Bible where these two tracks are abridged... Not coincidently, God’s promise to bless Abram was preceded by a command. Genesis 12:1 states, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” God’s command to Abram was to “leave…and go…” Incidentally, “So Abram left, as the Lord had told him…” (Gen 12:4). Hence, God’s promise to bless Abram (top line) that he might be a blessing to the nations (bottom line) was predicated on His command to “go.” Jesus, in His last two recorded commands, followed the same pattern. His promise to the disciples: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (top line: blessing) was so they would “make disciples of all nations…baptizing…and teaching…” (bottom
line: to be a blessing), but it was predicated on His command to “go” (Mt 28:19,20).
        Following this commission, Jesus’ last commission also followed the same pattern: “But
 you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you (top line: blessing), and you will be my witnesses (bottom line: to be a blessing) in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (“go”) (Acts 1:8).
       Missionary John Mott said, “If it is a good thing to go where we’re needed, it is more Christ-like to go where we’re needed most. Whereas there are multiple “something’s” that work against the mission of the Church, there is a culprit that fights largely against the equality of resources needed to send workers to UPGs. … that culprit is bulky Institutional Church (IC) operating expenses. Sadly, the current benchmark for Western IC giving to reach UPGs is 0.02% of their overall budget. Conversely, this 0.02% benchmark has the potential to be shattered to the upside by millions of Western believers operating from “small, simple, easily reproducible churches.”
              Consider the allocation of missionaries to foreign fields: 96% work among already existing churches, whereas only 4% work where no church exists!  Along these imbalanced lines, 40% of the Church’s foreign mission resources in North America are being deployed to just 10 oversaturated countries, which already possess strong citizen-run home ministries.  Nearly 97% of the total income of all Christian organizations was spent on Christians themselves. Whereas $261 billion was spent on ministering to Christians, only $7.8 billion was spent on already-evangelized non-Christians, and even more alarming, only $52 million was spent on reaching the 1.9 billion unreached peoples – a mere 0.2% of what Christians spend on themselves!
            The total income of Christians in the USA is $5.2 trillion annually, nearly half of the world’s total Christian income.39 Out of this, the evangelical annual share of income in the year 2000 was 2.66 trillion. And out of this, evangelicals had $850 billion annually in disposable income. To put this amount of wealth in perspective in the context of the GC, the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board estimated that only $650 million was needed to complete the task of global evangelization. In view of this, where is all the wealth going that instead could be used to enable GC workers? As the following statistics bear out, much of it is going towards Church bureaucracy:
When asked “What would you do with an unexpected financial windfall?” thirty-one percent of Protestant pastors said they would build, expand or update their church buildings and facilities. Seven percent said they would give more to foreign missions and evangelism.
A 2004 survey of 34 denominations showed that the average amount of total denominational budgets earmarked for overseas missions was 2%. Annual church embezzlements by top custodians exceed the entire cost of all foreign missions worldwide. Emboldened by lax procedures, trusted church treasurers are embezzling from the Church $5,500,000 per day. That’s $16,000,000,000 per year!
85% of all church activity and funds are directed toward the internal operations of the congregation, such as staff salaries, building payments, utility and operating expenses.
50% of the average church’s budget goes to staff and personnel salaries; whereas missions/evangelism accounts for only 5%.

           I should state that writing I am quoting is dated April, 2009, but I know of no reason to believe that the statistics connected to church corporations has changed significantly. 

          You can contact me at 757757tev@gmail.com* or 757-735-3639. My blog is tevyebird.blogspot.com, and a transcript of today’s talk will be posted to the date October 5, 2011.  For more information about simple church in this area, visit www.hrscn.org (in areas other than Hampton Roads, VA, visit www.simplechurch.com)*
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            From pages 5 through 19 of Steven S. Lyzenga’s dissertation, ASSESSING THE STATE OF SIMPLE CHURCHES IN THE USA REGARDING RELEASING RESOURCES TOWARD FINISHING THE GREAT COMMISSION, which can be seen at
http://house2harvest.org/docs/Simple_Churches_Releasing_Resources_S_Lyzenga.pdf.
* changes from the original posting

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