Awakening, Harvest, and Broken Nets (Part 1)
I believe the best days for the church are still ahead of us. Not only is the church going to become the pure and spotless bride that Scripture predicts, but the harvest of souls that the church will see in the coming years will be greater than any hour of history*.
So I’m the last guy who wants to persuade Christians to stop praying for revival and for lost souls to come to Christ. I believe we need to pray more, not less, and boldly ask the Lord for an awakening both here in the West and around the globe.
But I think we should stop and think about what we are asking for Jesus for when we pray. Awakening in the church and a harvest of souls is not a bad thing. But the reality of the situation is I don’t think we’re ready for the kind of awakening we’re praying and dreaming about, let alone the one He desires to give. This question gets to the heart of the matter:
What will we do once it arrives?
And I mean that seriously. Most of the church currently is seeing little true conversion happening. So we’re not used to discipling brand new believers who’ve never known Christ. We have a tough time with the one or two a year that typically come in. But what happens when the number of new believers in your church is equal to the number of established believers in your church? Or what happens if the number of new believers in your church is double that of the size of your current congregation so that “mature” believers are outnumbered two to one?
This isn’t just an issue of capacity (meaning do we have enough room in the building?), but how do we teach them to follow Jesus? How do we deal with casting out demons and dealing with their issues they bring to the body? How do the believers in the church deal with the strain that so many new believers places on the body?
Perhaps a story from the life of Jesus can help illustrate this. In Luke 5, some of the disciples were out fishing and Jesus used their boat to preach to a crowd that had gathered. Unfortunately, the catch of fish the night had not been that great. They had caught nothing. Jesus instructed Peter to cast his nets on the other side of the boat. Peter was in disbelief and even told Jesus that it wouldn’t work, but reluctantly followed Jesus’ command.
When the disciples cast their nets onto the other side of the boat, the catch of fish was so incredibly large that their nets began to tear. Peter gets appropriately freaked out and even asks Jesus to leave! This was a supernatural sign to Peter. But Jesus tells Peter “Don’t be afraid Peter. From now on you’ll be a fisher of men.” This last prediction of Jesus tells me this was more than just a sign to show Peter who Jesus was, but a sign to show Peter the kind of ministry he was to have.
I believe we are entering into days where the harvest of unbelievers will be great. But the nets (the church, at least in general, in the West), is not prepared for those days. We, like Peter, expect to catch something, but not nearly as much as Jesus will bring, and so we bring nets that can’t handle the catch. And it puts us in danger of losing the harvest.
Are you praying for revival for the church and awakening among the lost? Good! But we as the church need to prepare in faith for the days ahead. What will happen when it truly comes? Are we ready? Or does how we disciple, meet, and do mission need to change so our nets don’t break on that day? I believe it does.
We’ll talk more about that over the next couple of days…
Photo Credit: An Old Fishing Net by Sam Cox
*I believe this both from a biblical prophecy standpoint and from a sheer demographics standpoint. More people will be alive on the planet in this century than than any other.
7 responses to “Awakening, Harvest, and Broken Nets (Part 1)”
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I believe you’re touching in a valid topic. This year my church recognized this concern as well and asked me to lead a small group on what we called the “fundamentals of faith.” I only share this because I discovered that while there seems to be an abundance of materials directed to those that already have a walk with the Lord, there are very few resources directed to bringing along someone who has had little or no prior exposure to the Bible etc. Thank you for taking on this topic, I look forward to hearing what you have to share.
Travis, I am glad that you are talking about this. I will look forward to read what you have to say. I think discipleship and preparing each other to step forward and help with the harvest is a sorely missing trait in most of our churches — “traditional” or house churches.
Nets to me represent methods. They are a way of harvesting fish, but you can also use a trap, or a line, for instance. I think you’re spot on then, that the methods we have relied on for a looong time will not hold up on the revival we pray for. The mission field is changing too. The country town I live in, considered large for our part of the world (Australia) , is currently receiving refugees who have fled Iraq because of religious persecution. They are not Christian, but Yezidi. I see this as God’s provision for his mandate to “go into all the world”, but instead, he is bringing the world to us. Again, different methods. Exciting times, and Christians need to consider the possibilities coming out of the world’s groanings. We pray for peace, and now we have people arriving on our doorstep looking for ….peace. Wow, how redemptive is our God?