For decades our population has been growing more ethnically diverse, but Southern Baptists have stayed far too white. While our urban areas have been growing -- 82 percent of the population now lives in cities or their suburbs -- we have largely remained on the outskirts of town.
At the same time attrition is chipping away at what was once a strong base. Every year some 1,000 Southern Baptist churches disappear, either by dying, leaving the denomination or fading into oblivion. Even more churches have become useless in reaching their communities for Christ.
Outside the South we have lost so much ground on the church-to-population ratio that some parts of North America have lostness rates similar to the international mission field. Our cultural, entertainment, educational and government institutions all seem to be running away from God at full sprint.
I believe the North American Mission Board's Send North America strategy has the potential to make great inroads into the spiritual darkness of North America. We hope to plant 15,000 churches in 10 years and raise up a new generation of missionaries who can be deployed to those churches. But our plans, strategies and resources will fall flat and fall short if they are not rooted in prayer.
As a group of churches, we have a lot of resources. We have money, buildings and talented people. We can accomplish some good things on our own. But we won't ever accomplish the huge things God wants to do in North America and throughout our world without prayer.
That's why I hope you will join me in praying every day that God will lift up workers for the harvest field in North America and around the globe. Only God can work in the hearts of individual churches and congregations to respond to the great spiritual need our world has.
In Luke 10:2 Jesus tells us to "pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."
Notice Jesus didn't tell us to pray that there would be a harvest. The harvest is already there; it's all around us. What we need are more people willing to go into the harvest field.
We have encouraged churches to set today aside -- Oct. 2, 10/2 -- as a special day of prayer to ask God to send more workers into the harvest fields of North America and the world. But this is not a once a year event. I hope you will consider making Luke 10:2 a daily prayer. Pray every morning or evening at 10:02. If your prayer calendar is already too full, at least try to pray this plea once a week.
For more information about the TenTwo initiative, including a downloadable video and church prayer resources, visit www.namb.net/TenTwo.
Kevin Ezell is president of the North American Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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