Harvest is Essential
A little over three years ago, members of FBC Allen began going into the community to knock on doors, pray for people, and share the gospel. The activity we refer to as “the harvest” has received mixed responses from various groups of believers both inside and outside the church. There are people who have experienced a paradigm shift and are now all in on living a missional lifestyle. There are also those who are opposed, even to the point of leaving the church in some cases. But perhaps the most common type of person I have come across is the one who supports the harvest while rarely (if ever) participating. It is acknowledged as a good activity, but not for everyone. I often hear, “That’s great you all do that, but that’s not really my style.”
Sometimes this mentality is a result of a false perception that a specific skill set is necessary to engage strangers with the good news of salvation. Sometimes we simply do not want to leave our comfort zones. In any case, we miss out when we sit on the sidelines. The harvest is an essential activity, and I cannot overstate its importance as a spiritual discipline in the life of every believer.
Why is the harvest essential for every believer?
1) Jesus tells us to pray for more laborers – When we pray for more laborers in the harvest, we must realize that we are an answer to our own prayer. You would never pray for other Christians to love their neighbors while refusing to do so yourself. So why would we pray for more laborers in the harvest while refusing to go?
2) It creates a regular pattern of seeking out lostness – If you look at Jesus’s life, one thing that will stand out is that he was always on the move. His method of reaching the lost was not to simply wait for situations in which lost people were around him; his method was to go to where the lost people were! Regularly going into the harvest creates a healthy habit that begins to have a lifestyle impact. Even just 1-2 hours per week spent intentionally pursuing the lost changes a person’s heart to think and live missionally at all times. Suddenly, every aspect of life becomes an extension of the harvest. We set aside specific time for many other spiritual disciplines, and the harvest should be no different. How much does a fisherman fish? He certainly does not wait for the fish to come to him!
3) Finding the house of peace – One reason many believers do not participate in the harvest is because they do not view it as an effective strategy. This is because the most prevalent misconception about door-to-door evangelism is the goal that it attempts to accomplish. There is no doubt about it: the gospel spreads most rapidly and effectively through existing relationships. The goal of the door-to-door method is not to try to be a super-spreader evangelist who knocks on every door and converts an entire neighborhood. The goal is not even to eloquently argue someone into the kingdom of God. The goal is simply to find where God is already working in a community. This is based on Luke 10, in which Jesus tells his disciples to find the house of peace (someone who receives the messenger, the message, and the mission) and stay with that house! When you find the house of peace, your goal is to equip them to leverage their existing relationships to reach the rest of the neighbors with the gospel. More times than not, these relationships extend far beyond the neighborhood you are targeting. Could you knock on 10 doors and lead 10 people to Christ? Absolutely, but that is not what defines the strategy. Finding the house of peace takes perseverance, and it often comes after being rejected 100+ times (and rarely is this the stereotypical door slam – it is usually polite!). Unfortunately, many believers go into the harvest once or twice and quit after not seeing any tangible fruit. From a pure numbers standpoint, leading one person to faith after knocking on 100+ doors seems like a pretty lousy percentage. But as a stranger, you are an outsider! The role of the outsider is to find faithful insiders who will take responsibility for reaching those they already know. Regularly participating in the harvest, therefore, requires no special skill or gifting. The only requirement is a willingness to obey and persevere to find where God is at work.
4) Practice for engaging your own sphere of influence – Regularly engaging strangers with the gospel prepares you to take steps of faith with the people you know. As mentioned above, going into the harvest transforms your mind to be looking for opportunities to share the gospel at all times. Not only does it make you more attentive to opportunities, but it makes you more confident to step into those conversations. When I began going into the harvest, I found that gospel conversations with friends and coworkers came about much more naturally than before. This was largely due to increased confidence and practice. Instead of blindly jumping into these conversations, I began to have a better sense of where I was going. Just like we might practice a musical instrument to improve and maintain our skills, we should also practice sharing the gospel. The book of Acts says that even Paul became more and more persuasive as he went. This does not happen by sitting in a classroom or by coincidence, but by regular practice. The harvest is a great place to develop and maintain the skills we need to feel confident sharing the gospel in our every day lives.
5) Setting an example in discipleship – A vital piece of discipleship is the aspect of taking people with you. Jesus called his disciples to him, saying he would make them become fishers of men. He then immediately took them with him to go fishing for men. We want to disciple people like Jesus, so we should aim to equip others to be followers of Jesus and fishers of men. The harvest can serve as a form of on the job discipleship and training for new or existing believers. You are modeling for others and equipping them to do the same things!
6) Unity – In Luke 10, Jesus sends his disciples out 2x2 and not alone. When you go as a team of two or three, the fellowship and unity that develops cannot be described. You are seeking after one purpose together, and you experience unity in the Spirit as you strive together as one for the faith of the gospel! This bond knows no boundaries. As a result of going into the harvest with others, I now have people from many ages and backgrounds who I consider to be my family. Paul’s wish in Philippians 1:27 is that the believers would “…stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.”
7) Experience God at work! – I could give numerous examples, but He is always working! We just need to go. Why would we ever want to miss out on such a privilege?
Also read this article by Andrew Stroud on why we should be in the harvest: https://intotheharvest.org/3-reasons-to-be-in-the-harvest/?fbclid=IwAR1qeKwD_ChuMTtmpyW6e-SqrPDcb06Mj4_WaeVchP3K7gpSSW2s3mIi_J0