The saddest thing about being lost
Hide-and-seek was a favorite game of my children. Now, my grandchildren are discovering the game and enjoying hide-and-seek as well. My oldest grandson recently asked his dad to play hide-and-seek with him. After several rounds of Dad counting, son hiding, and Dad finding, Dad began to wonder if his hunch was right that what his son loved most about the game was being sought after and pursued by his Daddy. To test his theory, Dad employed a cruel tactic (one he doesn’t recommend a parent imitate):
Dad counted, just like all the other times, and son ran to hide. But this time Dad sat down on the couch, turned on the television, choosing NOT to go find him. As he sat there, he wondered how long he would wait before his son came out of hiding. Also, he was curious to see how his son responded to not being sought.
It didn’t take long before his son emerged. Dad says he will never forget the look on his son’s face when he realized his dad was on the couch and not actively looking for him. He didn’t say anything at first, but his facial expression and body posture spoke volumes. He looked at his dad with one of the saddest looks of dejection and he said, “Dad, don’t you care to come looking for me?”
I once thought the worst thing in the world was for a person to be lost. I have altered that to believe, the worst thing in the world is for a person to be lost and for no one to be looking for them. “Seeking the lost” (Luke 19:10) is the self proclaimed reason for our Lord’s coming. Seeking the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son is the abiding theme of our Lord’s best known parables in Luke 15. The Great Commission (recorded five times by the divinely inspired Gospel writers), explicitly and implicitly, contains the “seeking” factor. The Lord’s church is not to sit on her “spiritual couch,” waiting for the lost to find them; rather, the church is to be actively involved in the “seeking” business modeled and taught by our risen Lord.
Recently, I have rejoiced to receive reports of some Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) churches that are employing the “seeking” process.
One of our MBC pastors related to me that his church had not had a revival in seven to eight years. Months before the revival services began, he got his leaders on board, they utilized cottage prayer meetings, planned special nights for various age groups, got members involved in pack-a-pew, conducted outreach in the community and advertised the upcoming revival. Attendance for the nights of the revival services equaled 80 percent of their Sunday morning attendance, and there were about half as many decisions for Christ as they run in Sunday morning attendance.
Another church experienced God’s blessings during their recent pre-Easter revival.
It had been some time since this church had revival services. They invited one of our MBC vocational evangelists to come, followed his revival plans closely, had cottage prayer meetings, as well as for one day praying around the clock. They reached out into their community by passing out flyers as well as by making phone calls to area residents to invite them to the revival. Church members agreed to pack the pews, and pack them, they did. The attendance for the night services of the revival equaled 80 percent of their Sunday morning attendance. The number of decisions equaled one-third of their Sunday morning attendance.
I rejoiced with another pastor who recently called to relate how God’s favor is showing up through their church’s outreach efforts into their community without accompanying revival services. They prayer walked the neighborhood around their church last year, and saw some fruit from their efforts and intercessions then. However, they began in March, taking several Sunday nights to prayer walk their community again. They followed up with door-to-door visitation, inviting people to their Easter services, sharing Christ as they went. They saw seven pray to receive Christ the first week of door-to-door visitation. Since the first of the year, they have seen approximately half as many professions of faith as they see in attendance on Sunday mornings.
The common denominators in these reports include: Prayer – God is a prayer-answering God. Jesus said, “Without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Intentionality – these churches purposed to reach out into their communities in various ways and God opened people’s hearts. Involvement – God’s people used their time, talents and gifts to touch the lives of those without Christ. Obedience – they utilized Biblical practices.
Wouldn’t it have been sad – no, it would have been tragic – if no one had made efforts to seek the lost in these communities? I tremble to think of eternity, and hearing the voices of lost people where I have ministered who would be saying, “Didn’t you care to come looking for me?” The worst thing in the world is for a person to be lost and for no one to be looking for them. Let’s celebrate God’s harvest April 26, with every MBC Church baptizing converts. (Gary Taylor is the Missouri Baptist Convention’s director of evangelism.)