Many years ago, I tried to raise money to go on a Missions trip to England. Yes, I know what you’re thinking; those godless, primitive English natives with their lorries and their bangers and mash need to be rescued from their primitive jungles by Jesus like everybody else!
So, I started my campaign by sending out two hundred letters (for those of you under the age of thirty, that meant I took a pen, wrote words on paper, folded it up and stuffed it in an envelope, licked a postage stamp worth twenty cents, stuck it to the envelope and dropped it into the mailbox).
From my now-unreliable memory, this is possibly what I wrote on my letters:
Dear Skeptical Loved One,
I haven’t ever talked to you before, but I am attending school in Oklahoma, studying theatre and a whole bunch of other trivial facts that you likely find uninteresting.
Why don’t I just cut to the chase?
I am trying to raise $2,000 for a Missions trip to England, so I can:
- go dip my foot in the English Channel,
- find out what this midday tea thing is all about,
- tour Buckingham Palace,
- take Polaroids of Big Ben,
- eat strawberries and cream and drink champagne at the All-England Lawn and Tennis Club during the Wimbledon Championships, and
- share the love of Jesus with those British savages if I have time.
Please support my misguided attempts at evangelism by sending your hard-earned money to…(you get the idea).
Your Brother in Christ,
Shockingly, I only managed to raise twenty dollars. None of my fellow Team England friends raised enough either, and the whole trip got cancelled by the early spring. The British nation had to wait for a better group of tourists, er, I mean, missionaries to come save their souls.
Jesus told his disciples, “Go into all the world and (1) tell everyone the good news about who I am, what I did, and what just happened to me, and (2) make committed followers out of people from every nation.” Are we still taking that seriously?
Today, we find Christianity in Europe and North America in decline. Postmodernism has passed sentence on the Church, finding it intolerant, irrelevant, and out-of-date. Christians are asking, “What is the best response to this crisis? What can be done to prevent this slide toward secularism?”
The answer seems to point back to my vulgar attempt to visit the UK all those years ago. I might have said that I wanted to evangelize England, but my heart revealed I had other idols I wanted to worship.
Maybe the Church’s commitment to go and make disciples is stunted because she, also, has other idols to worship. Has the thrill ride of the modern evangelical church experience titillated thousands of Christians into complacency? Have we have forgotten that “go and make” applies to everyone and not a just a weathered few?
How do we turn it around? I suspect the answer looks different from local church to local church, but a common starting point has to be a renewal of Great Commission commitment. Let’s take the attention off of ourselves and start feeding the widows and orphans again (James 1:27).
And one final note: yes, England, I know you are not savages. Some of my best friends are English and they have yet to skewer me with spears.
If you are a practicing Christian, here is something you need to hear. If your heart and mind is that the addicted, impoverished, and broken people dug their own grave and the rest of society is not responsible for their bad mistakes, then I ask you to wake up.