“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
I’m a preacher and teacher. So, it always intrigues me when I see Jesus doing the things that I have dedicated the better part of my life to doing. I’d be a fool to not take note of how Jesus ministered, the context, the topics, the passion, the creativity and the outcomes.
I noticed again today in my devotions that Jesus was a traveling preacher that gave a great portion of his messages in the marketplace. Jesus’ primary pulpit was the street corner. He would “go through all the TOWNS and VILLAGES” (vs. 35), “see the CROWDS” (vs. 36), and “send OUT workers into his harvest FIELD” (vs. 38).
Sometimes he would teach in the synagogues, but his preaching, healing and ministering happened almost exclusively in the public square. I wonder if we’ve tried to get our evangelism so firmly located within our church services and congregational gatherings that we’ve missed key opportunities. Have we made it more about providing a great program or about releasing a great people? Could our attractional style of ministry (build it and they will come) perhaps be getting in the way (or a replacement for) the equipping and sending of missionaries into their personal “harvest fields?”
Years ago, Jerry Cook gave us the concept of “field / force.” He believes (and I wholeheartedly agree) that the church is a force that is to be equipped and released into the field to minister in the name of Jesus. It’s common and natural to mistakenly think that the church is the field and if we could just get them into our wonderful buildings they will immediately surrender their hearts and lives to the Lord. This can indeed happen (occasionally), however, the sheer statistics are stacked against us.
Consider your city. How many people are there? Now consider your church. How many people attend regularly? Is there a huge difference between those numbers? More than likely, the answer is YES. Even if your church filled every seat for dozens of services, it probably wouldn’t come close to reaching a large percentage of pre-Christians in your community.
Jesus saw the “crowds” in the “towns and villages” and he preached the good news to them and healed them. These are folks that may or may not follow him or step foot into one of his services at the local synagogue.
Jesus’ primary pulpit was in the street. What is your primary pulpit?