A couple weeks ago I got together with some young leaders that are doing some amazing things around the world for the kingdom. After we went around and shared who we were, Laura Bronson (super rad) threw up Matthew 9:37-38 and asked what we thought:
37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”
A lot of people were talking about how in their ministries they were understaffed and short on volunteers. We then talked about how within a group of 300 churches in Ontario there were only 180 pastors. We talked about our role in this and discussed that the only instruction within the verses is to pray. That there is nothing we can do to attract these workers but trust God to bring people where there is need. When that was said something in me felt uneasy. I read the passage over and over and I could not see where it talked about God bringing us workers. “therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”
I wrote in my journal while sitting there:
I am not sure if this is a call to ministry but rather a call away from the church. The harvest is out there and I think we may be “wasting” workers in the church. This reality of ministry as an occupation rather than as a lifestyle is what is stifling and preventing the Word of God to spread.
I think this verse is often read as a recruitment to ministry but, I wonder if this is rather a call to the people sitting as spectators and consumers of religion to get up and get out into the harvest. To pray that people would start to live this ministry lifestyle wherever they exist during the day understanding that there is a plentiful harvest among them.
I also wonder how many people in those 300 churches are gifted with pastoring but told that they can not have the role because they don’t have a masters or because they are a woman. I have been wrestling with questions such as what the church is to look like amist a community and what a pastors role is to look like. There is a quote that spurred a lot of these questions that is; “Churches are measuring success by attendance and conversions, where they should be measuring by baptisms and church plants.” It seems like a semantical debate but there is an absolutely radical concept behind it. A church meant to equip and multiply. Not to stress growth in breadth but in depth. Is this to say that big churches are in the wrong, not at all. When the church uses attendance as the leading metric to indicate success I believe that it is dangerous.
What if we were to read this passage not as a recruitment to vocational ministry but a call to an active faith community among the local community. Trusting that the radical life that Jesus calls us to would be infectious and because of that, multiplication would happen. The harvest is out there, where are we?