Almost everyone knows that the Bible is the bestselling book in history. Few people know that the Quotations of Chairman Mao is second only to the Bible. A perusal of Mao’s “Little Red Book” explains how an outmanned and outgunned band of Communist guerrillas was able to defeat not one but two armies in the 1940s and ultimately come to power in China in 1949. Mao’s revolution started as a classic example of asymmetric warfare. What in the world is asymmetric warfare? Asymmetric means something that is out of balance. In warfare it refers to a smaller force using unconventional means to battle a much larger force. The current war on terror is a classic example. In Mao’s case, the Communists were a minority in the beginning. Their only hope was to pick spots where whey could win one battle at a time. They did, and history reminds us of their huge successes.
I could not read Mao’s “Little Red Book” without constantly thinking of the parallels to the rise of the Christian faith. Eleven Disciples of Jesus Christ, given the charge to win the world for their Lord and Savior. Rodney Starkes tells us that by the third century, though the population of the Roman Empire was 60 million, 31 million were numbered as followers of Jesus Christ! Still a minority, yes, but a larger minority. Still, 2,000 years later, Christianity remains a minority. We can boast that two billion in our world claim Christianity, yet, we live in a world of just over six billion people. Thinking of Missouri, we are reported to have a population of 5.8 million. Best estimates tell us that only 3 out of 10 in our midwestern state are born again. What can so few do when faced with so many?
I have been greatly encouraged this past year by the efforts of two Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) churches which have been making dramatic inroads into their community. The community is Kirksville and the churches are First Baptist and Fellowship Baptist led by Pastors Marty Joplin and Larry Gibson, respectively. Last fall, they led their churches to get out into their community and Prayer Walk Kirksville. Their plan included returning to the areas they had prayer walked to place a plastic bag on every door. The plastic bag contained three items: A Gospel presentation, a DVD of information about their churches, and an invitation to attend their churches in November. Attendance on that November Sunday was higher than usual, and they witnessed people praying to receive Christ in the process. The churches decided to repeat these efforts in the spring of 2009. They again prayer walked and followed up by the distribution to every door, this time inviting people to Easter services. The results were more dramatic. Larger Easter attendance and many more professions of faith. Joplin emailed me the next week asking, “Guess how many FBC Kirksville baptized Easter Sunday?” I scrolled through the pictures of those baptized and counted 19. I talked to Gibson; Fellowship Baptist had seen almost 100 professions of faith since the first of the year! Each pastor said the increase in attendance and the professions of faith were directly related to the prayer walking and door-to-door distributions that they named Operation Kirksville.
Those churches have modeled what every church in Missouri is capable of doing, and what we are challenging every MBC church to do in 2010. GPS (God’s Plan For Sharing) ACROSS MISSOURI is our major evangelistic campaign to deliver the Gospel to 2.3 million Missouri households in the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday, April 4. Let me repeat what I said in last month’s Pathway article, regarding the four phases of ACROSS MISSOURI. (John MacArthur has said that repetition is all right, because preaching is just repeating to people what they already know, but haven’t done anything about.)
The Preparation Phase (January and February) is the time for each church to determine the areas around their church where they will prayer walk, as well as take steps to improve “first impressions” of church facilities, getting ready for company on Easter Sunday.
The Prayer Walking Phase (March 6 and 13 are suggested Saturdays) is a time for each church to prayer walk (or prayer drive in some cases) their community, asking God to bless families and open hearts to the Gospel.
The Distribution Phase (March 20 are 27 are the suggested Saturdays) is the time for each church to return to the prayer-walked areas to place a plastic bag on each door. It will contain only two items: A presentation of the Gospel, and a brochure from that church inviting residents to worship Easter Sunday, April 4. During this phase, a media campaign will be underway that will reinforce the message of the Gospel brochure.
The Follow-Up Phase will be conducted from Easter through Mother’s Day (April 4-May 9), during which time churches will be following up on those who attended Easter Sunday and responded to the Gospel brochure.
Today, when we hear the term “GPS,” we may think of that wonderful gadget that helps us get to a destination. GOD’S PLAN FOR SHARING ACROSS MISSOURI works much the same way. Our final destination is clear. So is our responsibility in the meantime: Every believer sharing, Every person hearing. Ours is a God-sized task. It was for the Disciples 2,000 years ago; it is no less today. They and we have resources Mao never dreamed of: Prayer, the Holy Spirit, our interceding Savior, the life-changing Gospel, and fields that are ripe for spiritual harvest. Pray with me for God’s favor to rest upon us for GPS ACROSS MISSOURI. (Gary Taylor is the Missouri Baptist Convention’s director of evangelism.)