I heard a statistic the other day which I haven't documented but concerning which I was assured by a reliable friend it has been. As much as such a statistic can be documented, that is.
A friend of mine, who heads a ministry to pastors, told me that, in any church the number of those who are "sold out" to Jesus is somewhere around 3%. That is, in any congregation, only about 3% of the members really "get it" about the Gospel. They are serious in daily reading and study of Scripture, faithful in prayer and in seeking to grow, ready to bear witness, and dutiful in supporting the work of the church with their time, talents, and treasure.
The same report indicated that some 15% of the people in any church will never "get it" in this way. They just aren't interested in anything more than what they have. However, that leaves 82% of the people in any church. These folks, presumably, could simply continue in their status quo life of faith, or they could be energized to seek the Lord and His Kingdom with greater diligence and fruitfulness.
How to move more of the 82% into the 3% - thus, of course, increasing the ranks of the latter? This is a work only God can do, but He has appointed a place for us in it. It would seem that preaching, teaching, disciple-making, and prayer should be the primary works to which church leaders must commit themselves for this to happen. But wait a second: aren't we already doing that? And, if we are, what shall we conclude? That God is hard-hearted not to honor our efforts? That He was only kidding when He promised us power to harvest the fields of the world?
Perhaps there's something about the way we're conducting our part of the deal that doesn't resonate with God's purpose? Could it be that our preaching, teaching, disciple-making, and prayer are, well, deficient? Are we doing things our way rather than God's?
This much is clear: whatevere we're doing in these areas, we aren't much augmenting the ranks of the 3%. As a result, the Church continues to languish on the social and cultural margins of society, and the country continues to shrug off the last vestiges of its inherited Christian past.
At the very least, it would seem, we need to re-evaluate what we're doing, why we're doing it, and how effective we're being in the work of equipping saints (holy ones) for works of ministry (self-denying, witness-bearing, outreach to others). Whether the number of the truly committed is 3% or a little more (or less?), whatever the number is, it's not what it should be.
The sooner we admit that, the sooner we'll begin looking for solutions to help us become more effective in the work of making real, committed, sold-out, sacrificing, witness-bearing, God-and-neighbor-loving disciples of Jesus Christ.
And really, doesn't He, our scarred and exalted King, deserve as much?
T. M. Moore