What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And the Lord said unto him…Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.”
I Kings 19:13, 14, 18
These were verses from the pericope of Scripture that Rev. Carl Haak read at our last New Fields Committee meeting of the PRC Domestic Mission Committee (DMC). The point of the Scripture reading was Elijah’s discouragement in his labors. He was filled with self-pity and needed to be reprimanded by God. “Get back to your work! I will help you. No, you are not the only one left who serves the Lord.” God says that He has seven thousand in Israel that have not apostatized.
The point was taken that so often we become discouraged in the labor of evangelism, whether it be the church council, the evangelism committees, or as a congregation or denomination. What use is it? Who will listen to our good news? We are tempted to be filled with self-pity. But the Lord has elect children out there in our cities and countrysides, as well as in the nations of the world. The Lord will help us in our work and bless our labors!
Synod 2020, after approving the work of the DMC, Byron Center Council, and the missionary, voted to approve the following mandate: “That synod mandate the DMC to report to Synod 2021 with ways that it has increased their efforts to establish a concrete field of labor for the missionary.” That motion carried and this mandate was given to the New Fields Committee (NFC) to wrestle with. What were we doing and what things might we do to show Synod 2021 that we are striving to “increase our efforts to establish a concrete field of labor for the missionary”? How can we as churches reach out to those who are lost or are in apostatizing churches?
Through the meetings of the NFC, it was emphasized that today it is important to use technology not only for those who come to our mission webpage (prca.org), but also to reach out to the masses around us. In the past we advertised ourselves mainly through lectures or mailings of printed material. Today the way to communicate with others is often through the Internet. We need to educate ourselves on effective ways to do this. This will require the help of those familiar with marketing on the Internet. How can we link those who respond to one of our emails so that they may quickly be added to the contact list of our individual churches, and be pointed to mission podcasts, meditations, and various activities that are going on in our churches?
Our missionary is already writing meditations for prca.org and doing messages on the Reformed Witness Hour. He has also been asked to prepare materials that our churches can use for their own local Bible studies in their communities. There is also the need of materials for podcasts to put out on social media that introduce the gospel and the Reformed faith. Maybe there is a need for collecting or writing material dealing with personal evangelism that can be used in our societies or even in our Christian schools.
The NFC also is discussing how we can target a specific area to seek to have a church plant. The DMC has sent out a request to all of our churches’ Evangelism Committees to tell us what they are doing in local evangelism, and also to send to us the names and addresses of contacts that they have had. Then the missionary could follow up on these contacts. We have heard from several of our churches and wait for the other committees to respond. This is the best source of contacts for the missionary. It is the members of our churches who live near, work with, and socialize with people who know and care for those outside the Christian faith. Together let us renew a heart for those outside of Christ. What a precious gospel we have to share!
The NFC desires to find an area of labor by way of data gathered from various sources: the Evangelism Committees of our churches, Reformed Witness Hour mailings and contacts, responses to the PRCA website, and contacts that individuals within our churches may have. Perhaps you might advertise your church’s evening sermon title and points on Facebook or Twitter. Many Reformed churches do not have an evening service anymore for their members to attend.
Other ideas were floated around in the meetings. We could locate our missionary in an area of a struggling or isolated church in our denomination. Another idea was that the DMC could look at a map, and try to choose an area where there is little or no Reformed presence. We would like to plant a church there in that area of the United States or Canada for a Reformed witness.
Once a promising area has been identified, we would have our missionary cultivate interested contacts with online instruction, using meditations, podcasts, and other new material that he is writing. We would seek to air the Reformed Witness Hour in that area.
So the work goes on. Not with pessimism, but with a bold affirmation that God has His elect people, and uses our weak means to bring them the gospel. Please remember your missionary, the DMC, and your local evangelism committees in your prayers.
For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be; there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel (Ezek. 34:11-14).
“Almighty God, who called Thy servant David from following the flock to be a shepherd for Thy people, in Thy mercy, grant that we, following his example, may bring those who are lost home to Thy fold. Amen.”