On February 24-25, 1984, 30 teachers of missions from our various brotherhood training schools, Bible colleges and universities gathered to pray and discuss our mutual concern for the mission of God. The following "open letter" is an expression of our thoughts, our agonies and our dreams regarding the evangelization of the world. We hope that you will be moved as we were to acknowledge the sovereignty of God and to renew your pledge to fulfill the Great Commission.
We have enjoyed your confidence and support both as missionaries and as teachers of missions. Our concern for the unreached is a heavy burden upon our hearts. We continue to assess what we as a brotherhood can do in order to find and bring the lost to Jesus.
We believe God looks to His people in this country to furnish the majority of the workers for worldwide evangelization. We have an immense potential -- experienced leaders, dedicated members and available training -- to take Christ to the world.
Surely the Lord is expecting us to do far more abundantly above all we ask or think in world evangelism by His power at work in us (Eph. 3:20-21).
Although many of Abraham's descendants, such as the prophet Jonah, tried to limit that care to their own people, Jehovah God has relentlessly pursued men in every class, clan and country.
Perhaps Israel's major deficiency was the failure to see that her election was for the purpose of bringing men of other nations to praise the glorious name of Jehovah (I Kings 8:41-43, 59, 60; Psalm 67:1-7, 86:9; Isa. 2:2-3, 56:6-8 and Zech. 8:20-23).
Today, His perfect plan for reconciling the nations in Jesus Christ is channeled through His church -- the new Israel.
Perhaps the major deficiency of the church at this moment is the failure to see that her election is to bring the nations to glorify the Lord (Matthew 28:18-20).
The church fulfills her purpose only when she lives and acts as God desires (Eph. 4:15-16). If the church is faithful to her Lord, she must go beyond guarding the word to heralding the Gospel.
The church must preach His message, live in unity and bring the nations to glorify Him
(Rom. 15:6-9). This is His mission in which we have been called to participate.
In light of this God-given responsibility to the world, elders, deacons, preachers, Bible teachers and the entire priesthood of God must always insist, in every place and in every way that the New Testament church be concerned about communicating the redeeming word to the lost.
A church interested only in herself never can please God. A truly sound church will be involved actively in reaching sinners. She will insist that world evangelism is an emergency concern which demands an immediate response from every believer (Eph. 5:15-16).
Characteristic of a mission-minded church is that special dimension that permeates the thinking of each member: "Nothing is more important than bringing the nations to the Lordship of Jesus."
With such singleness of purpose, the church becomes a nonsectarian body of united believers for whom Christ prayed and through whom the world will hear the Good News.
The Father gave His all, Jesus emptied Himself to become as man and the Holy Spirit is given to all those who believe. With the help of the Spirit, the church is guided and empowered for her task of reconciling an alienated world.
Because the church has received every needed spiritual resource, she is, in turn, challenged to invest her resources in fulfilling her task. Her greatest resources are the saints themselves -- young and old, rich and poor, high and low. Only Christ can lead such a diverse group to bring others from among all peoples of the earth to the throne of the Master.
Because of her abundant material resources, the church is called upon to celebrate her affluence by urging her members to simplify their lifestyles.
Those resources which are in this way conserved then can be invested in the training and sending of self-supported and church-supported missionaries. We can and indeed must, turn the world upside down.
These are the challenges and opportunities to which the church of Christ must respond meaningfully if she is to be loyal to her God.
A failure to respond causes churches to turn in on themselves, to wither and to die. Dead churches lose the favor of the Lord (Rev. 2:1-5; 3:14-22). Ungodly systems and satanic philosophies rush in to fill the void left by unconcerned churches.
The Body of Christ must regain her vitality so these challenges can be turned into opportunities for reaching the lost.
An aggressive approach to our world can swell the number of people who live to the praise of God (Rom. 15:7-12; II Cor. 4:15; Eph. 1:6, 12, 14).
The local church increasingly must be on the cutting edge of evangelism, both in sending workers abroad and in training everyone at home to speak persuasively about the faith "once for all delivered."
The life and work of the local church must respond to the lostness of the world. Preachers should preach frequently (e.g., once a month or at least the last Sunday in each five-Sunday month) on world evangelism.
The saints should be sensitized to the hopelessness of the world in church newsletters and on prominent bulletin boards. Prayer should be offered regularly and specifically for people, places and situations so that God may raise up missionaries from every local assembly.
Congregations should see that a growing amount -- 50 percent or more -- of the contribution goes for worldwide evangelism.
Members of the church should broaden their evangelistic vision by attending foreign lectureships, visiting mission works, and taking part in evangelistic campaigns overseas. There is much to be done and much that can be done.
Therefore, we repent and ask the Heavenly father to forgive us of our selfishness and lack of concern.
From this day forward, we do hereby pledge ourselves to make His passion for the lost the chief concern of our lives. We will personally seek the lost and not leave that work to any special individual or group.
From this day forward, we will seek to reach all men and women in every strata of society. We will steward our time, talent, energy and money for the purpose of bringing the lost to Jesus.
From this day forward, we will resist the cultural seduction of our faith by judging our successes in terms of service and faithfulness to Jesus rather than in terms of wealth, titles and prestige among men. We will place our trust in God rather than in ourselves and ask for His help in performing His task His way.
As children of the God who cares, we pledge ourselves to work for the discipling of the nations until all people everywhere have the opportunity to know Jehovah as Lord and become "conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29).
We, the undersigned, as teachers of missions, ask our beloved brotherhood to join us in restoring the biblical spirit of world evangelism to the churches of Christ. To Him be the praise and glory in the church and Christ Jesus both now and forever more.
Les Bennett, Abilene Christian University
Wendell Broom, Abilene Christian University
Dan Coker, Abilene Christian University
Charles Cook, Sunset School of Missions
Earl Edwards, Freed-Hardeman College
Wil Goodheer, Abilene Christian University
Sonny Guild, Columbia Christian University
Dan Hardin, Lubbock Christian University
Gordon Hogan, Harding University
Evertt W. Huffard
Evertt Huffard, Freed-Hardeman College
Bill Lambert, Harding University
Ellis Long, Abilene Christian University
Ed Mathews, Abilene Christian University
Keith Mitchell, International Mission
Howard Norton, Okla. Christian College
Tom Schulz, York College
Don Shackelford, Harding University
Philip Slate, Harding Graduate School
Gary Sorrells, Abilene Christian University
Gaston Tarbet, Abilene Christian University
Van Tate, Harding University
Donald R. Taylor, Magnolia Bible College
Bob Waldron, Bear Valley School of Biblical Studies
Tex Williams, Sunset School of Missions
Lynn Yocum, World Mission Info. Bank