Wednesday, October 04, 2006

300 Million and Counting

A friend sent me an interesting article that was in the Philadelphia Inquirer recently written by Steve Goldstein. It is all about the population trend here in America. According to the article, sometime in mid-October of this year, the population of the United States will reach 300 million inhabitants. Keep in mind that it took 139 years for our country to reach a population of 100 million. After that, it only took 52 years to add another 100 million to the population of the country. However, the third 100 million was attained in just 39 years. Projections are that by the end of the 21st century, we will double our population to 600 million people living in the borders of our nation.

That is amazing! Especially when you consider that the article goes on to say that the U.S. is the only industrialized nation that has significant population growth. According to Goldstein, in Europe, Japan and Russia, there are more deaths each year than there are births. Do you realize that in America a baby is born every seven seconds? Add to this that an international migrant arrives in America every 31 seconds and you see the reasons for this population explosion. Now add to that fact that half of the population growth in the U.S. in any given month or week is Hispanic.

So what does all this say to us as the church? It tells me that our country, like never before, is a Mission Field. I read in a book recently that the United States is now the third largest unreached nation in the world. If that is correct, than there are only two other nations in the world that has more unbelievers living in its borders than America does.

My friend, there has never been a more needed time in our country for the people of God to share their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. There has never been a more critical need for churches in America to make evangelism the engine that runs their ministry. There has never been a more needed emphasis on the church taking their ministries outside the walls and boundaries of their own sanctuaries and auditoriums and taking them into the neighborhoods and streets of American cities and suburbs. The local church is the hope of the world because we have the only message that can change a life for eternity.

Missions in the church is no longer simply sending monthly support checks to those who are faithful and courageous enough to leave their homes and go overseas to reach the unreached. Missions in the church is no longer simply a yearly conference with slide shows of children of the world and tables with snake skins and alligator heads on them. All of this is good and we must keep our commitment to reach those all over the world.

But let’s not forget that Jesus' words in Acts 1:8 calls us to reach our own “Jerusalem” first. Our first commitment is to reach the very neighborhoods and communities where God has ordained that we would live and worship. It seems to me that the most effective way for the church to do missions today and to effectively reach the world today is to make our first emphasis the men, women, boys and girls that are right here in our own country…in our own communities…all 300 million of them…and counting!!

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