A group of us has been in the United States of America this past week attending a conference on church growth. The unique thing about this conference is that it doesn’t advertise the conference. News about it spreads only through word-of-mouth. Into its 9th year, the 6,000 tickets for this conference get snapped up within hours of its release each year.
The vision is to help 1,000 churches break the 1,000 growth barrier. It isn’t focused on showcasing a lineup of incredible speakers but structured more like a school. Hundreds of their staff and volunteers walk around everywhere, ready to answer any question you may have about how something runs in the church. Everything you see and encounter is curated to reinforce what’s taught during the sessions.
Over the three days of the conference, we walked through the sprawling grounds of the church, sat through some inspiring sessions, took a few very practical workshops, spoke to staff members, and visited every store room and work space in the compound. We were on full learning mode, gleaned so much and truly had our mindsets adjusted. More importantly, I encountered God.
I was deeply convicted about the urgency of winning souls and felt the gentle challenge of the Saviour that He wants me to be a soul-winner. This is no great, new revelation. Just a simple reminder of something so basic in our faith – we’re God’s plan A for winning the lost, and He has no plan B.
It’s as though God took a cloth and wiped off the fog that had settled over the Parable of the Lost Sheep, a fog created by my familiarity with the parable. There are no new insights, just the sound of Jesus’ voice coming alive in those passages again. I felt again the Lord’s sharp concern for the one who was lost over the 99 that were found.
I wasn’t compelled by a sense of guilt or duty, I just heard something of His heartbeat.
The final day of the conference began at 7.30 am with an hour of prayer. We were all given half an hour to pray alone, and thousands of people dispersed across the auditorium, spilling out into the walkways outside – all praying. I stood alone at my seat asking the Lord to touch my heart afresh concerning His heart for the lost. I asked for His forgiveness that I’ve enjoyed the abundance of His salvation but had forgotten those who needed it. I asked Him to help me be a soul-winner and do the work of an evangelist.
I’m not setting any goals for myself in this – I’m just determined to stay close enough to Jesus to continuously hear His heart for the people around me. I haven’t set a task for myself to witness and evangelise – I just want to stick close enough to Jesus so that I can be His voice whenever He needs me to.
Jesus came to seek and find the lost, and I want to help.