Why Do People Remain Lost?
The question is not so much, “Why are people lost?” but more importantly, “Why do people remain that way?”
Some of us might find shallow comfort in a memorised theological response: Others of us may simply live with the chronic religious guilt that “people remain lost because they are predestined to remain that way”. Others of us may simply live with the chronic religious guilt that “people remain lost because Christians like me are not sharing their faith!”
But I believe there is another—potentially more devastating—layer to this conversation. The Baptist Mission that reached my parents has done decades of research in this regard. What they have discovered is that most unbelievers remain in their unbelief because Christians have progressively self-marginalised. In other words, we have increasingly viewed our church building as a sanctuary from which we may escape the hostile, ever-changing culture of the world. The ‘most successful churches’ seem to be those that have designed holistic ministry that not only allows their congregants to fellowship and worship with others who are just like them, but also affords their children a superior Christian education. They drink coffee roasted by pioneer church planters and enjoy meals made by Christian catering companies. In many parts of the world churches are building recreational centres to avoid sporting contact with non-believers and distribute ‘Christian Yellow Pages’ so congregants can avoid purchasing items from unsanctified distributors.
And the consequence of this is shocking: most lost people today don’t even know a Christian! In 2007, the Lausanne Movement exposed this ‘gospel crisis’ in a broadly circulated study.
According to this study, only 13% of Asia’s (now) 4.5 billion people even know a Christian! This means that when personal crises create spiritual thirst in an Asian heart, 87% percent will not even know a Christian from whom they could ask for living water. It means that if Jesus comes to them in a dream, 87% will have no choice but to ask their imam, mullah, abbot or monk to explain it to them.
But it also means something else. It means that when August comes and we celebrate the sacrificial giving of God’s people; when we begin to enjoy the blessings of a newly rebuilt building; when we return to a Sunday morning worship time—our attendance may well increase—but potentially 87% of our neighbours will tragically remain in their ‘pre-rebuilding condition’. Why? Because they don’t know us. And we don’t know them.
But there is good news! I am so grateful that long before I began to think of this week’s Grace eNews, God began to providentially stir up small groups of GBC members. They are meeting in MacPherson—sometimes in the morning, and sometimes in the evening—they are walking and praying, eating and meeting our neighbours. They are determined to be the church beyond our building! They are determined to get to know our neighbours, to understand their needs, and to pray for opportunities to develop ministries that will serve as bridges from our new building straight to the hearts of those living around us. If you or your CG would like to join them on this journey of discovery, please contact the church office for more details. Let’s get to know our neighbours!