There’s no question that the entire structure of the church is changing rapidly. For the first time ever, US church membership fell below the majority. This is incredibly significant. It’s impossible to overstate how rapidly church membership is in a freefall. We’re in a similar situation that an airplane pilot would be in if the plane was in freefall. There is no time to look back and assess what went wrong. In the moment, it’s the pilot’s job to fix the free fall and avoid a crash.
Jesus gave a glaring example of this when he told his disciples the cost of following him. Jesus told a man to follow him. He replied, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father” (Luke 9:59 ESV). Another said he was going to say farewell to those at his home. Jesus responded by saying, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (vs. 62). In other words, the mission is too important to take care of other matters first. This is not only a lesson on the cost of following Jesus, but is also about priorities. When other things become more important, the church falls apart.
Immediately after this, Jesus sent out the seventy-two, two by two, into every town and place where he was about to go. Jesus was preparing for his ministry by equipping others to go before him. His words are important: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). The same is true today. We are in desperate need of laborers. More specifically, the church is in need of laborers who refuse to look back. If we are going to expand the kingdom, we have to be willing to follow Jesus now. We need to prioritize him above everything else in our lives. And we need to keep our eyes on the goal.