By Michael C. Mack
We planned the articles for this issue on March 20, the day the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 916 points and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the nation’s largest city was “now the epicenter of this crisis” in the U.S., with 5,151 coronavirus cases and 29 deaths at that point.
We were a nation looking for some sense of hope in the midst of a crisis we didn’t even understand. People’s anxiety was palpable and pessimism itself took on pandemic proportions. On that day, publisher Jerry Harris and I talked on the phone about our August issue; our theme for the month was the future of our Bible colleges and universities and the next generations of church leaders.
It’s no secret some of our educational institutions have struggled recently, and two have closed. Questions about the future abound: Will the rest of our schools survive? Where will future preachers for our movement’s churches come from? Will our churches endure, and will our faith be passed on to future generations? Some folks seem to have lost hope in the future of the church, and for some, COVID-19 and the economic fallout from the pandemic have only magnified their anxiety.
I am not one of those people.
Our June issue, with a dozen writers under age 45 (and many in their 20s and 30s), is a testimony that the future of our movement is in good hands. I’ve heard high school and young college students preach God’s Word powerfully and we’ve heard stories of churches where students have preached (a story we hope to cover soon). More than all that, though, I believe God’s Word.
Four articles in this issue reference Romans 10:13-15, and for good reason: these widely quoted verses speak to the need for gospel preachers both here and internationally.
Paul asked a series of logistical questions concerning what needs to be in place so people can call on the name of the Lord and be saved.
I want to focus on the last two questions:
• “How can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
• “And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?”
Today, similar questions are being asked:
• What are our Bible colleges doing to develop more preachers?
• How can anyone become a preacher if our churches aren’t sending them to Bible college?
Jesus actually answered Paul’s question—and ours: “Ask the Lord of the harvest . . . to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38).
Our God is a sending God and a compassionate God who does not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
It’s clear how we should respond to this crisis: Ask the Lord to send out workers . . . into a world that desperately needs his healing. These “workers” are preachers and other church leaders, missionaries, ministry leaders, and God-loving, Christ-sharing leaders in the marketplace, government, schools, and homes.
This is a matter of obedience for us as Christ followers!
I’m asking you to join us, from August 1 to December 31, 2020, to pray daily, asking God to send workers. We’re calling this, “ASK.”
We’ve made it simple for you to take part in this prayer campaign: Subscribe for free to our “Daily Reading with The Lookout” email at www.ChristianStandard.com/newsletter. Each day (Monday–Saturday), we will include a short but specific prompt to pray for workers; these prayer requests will come from our churches, colleges, and other ministries involved in carrying out Christ’s commission in the U.S. and internationally. (And we promise not to glut your in-box or share your contact information.)
Just think: We will come together—thousands strong, we hope—praying in unison daily for five months, simply doing what Jesus instructed us to do. Let’s not spend any more time being anxious or pessimistic about the future of our churches, colleges, and ministries. Instead, let’s simply, yet boldly, ask the Lord to send out workers so that his good news can be proclaimed!