At a recent conference, the crisis facing assemblies in North America was driven home with power and clarity. A quick survey of the number of workers and the ages of those workers presents a sobering reality to all. Considering population densities, needs, and distances, there are tragically too few workers in North America, and especially in the U.S.A.
But diagnosing an illness is an exercise in frustration unless there is a discernible cause and a potential remedy.
As we were reminded, there is no “one” cause for our condition. Materialism would be one candidate and would have to rank near the top. We have become so accustomed to having “things” that we are deadened to our own materialistic mind-set. Discouragement in the work, the long distances men must travel with time away from their families, and the lack of receptivity to the gospel by the average North American vie for similar prominence on the list of reasons.
But another aspect which must be considered is apathy on the part of those who are not the workers. When was the last time your assembly prayed in the prayer meeting that the Lord might raise up from your midst someone to carry the gospel to the remainder of your state or province? When was the last time you thought about the need for workers for the area of the country in which you live?
But assemblies rise only as high as their leadership. Has the oversight been guilty of a tragic oversight? Have we striven to maintain unity, teach doctrine, maintain local testimony, and yet have forgotten that another aspect of our “job description” is to be concerned with development of gift in our midst, with a view to the gospel? “These ought ye to have done and not to leave the other undone” (Mat 23:23).
Acts 13 describes a mutual and concordant exercise and movement: men, leaders, were praying about the need and the Spirit of God was about to work. There was deep exercise on the part of these leaders as manifested by their fasting and prayer. This was not a matter of a quick mention at the prayer meeting. Paralleling this burden was the sovereign purpose of God. Linking them together was the Spirit’s work as He made manifest the call of Barnabas and Saul – a call which resulted in “turning the world upside down.“
No governing body or central authority assesses our needs and recruits laborers. Each assembly and every oversightis responsible to have a burden that the Lord would gift and develop young men for the work of the gospel. In keeping with this is the need to encourage and help these young men, perhaps even helping to finance a summer free to help in a tent effort or outreach work.
We have long passed the critical stage in treating this malady called apathy. May we all be stirred by the need of souls and the need of assembly testimony which is for the honor of our Lord Jesus.