Seeking the lost is the mission of many churches; as it should be. The Greatest Commandment (Matthew 28:19) calls on us to make disciples, but for it to be a successful mission, we must first look inward.
If you’ve ever flown in an airplane, you have listened to the flight attendant’s safety speech. You have heard them instruct you to first place a mask on yourself before helping others should oxygen masks be needed during travel. Travelers should then look around and assist those nearest to them. You would be unlikely to skip over rows of people to help someone on the other end of the plane, yet that is often what we do in our outreach ministry. We’ve been taught that we can only serve the lost and often overlook those in our midst that are crying out for help.
Choosing to follow Christ is not an easy path. Satan attacks us from many angles placing barriers in an attempt to weaken our faith. Jesus, at the core of his mission, nurtured his followers to become disciples, breaking down Satan’s barriers. He saw to their needs and performed miracles but also rebuked them. Jesus confronted and corrected his disciples in shocking ways. Jesus was not afraid to say, “you’re wrong,” and in turn, his disciples were empowered to seek the way, the truth, and the light.
When our focus is entirely outward, we are missing a key component of what it means to follow Jesus. We risk creating a body of believers that share the love of Christ without having truly experienced it themselves.
Therefore it is crucial to care for ourselves first, then help those closest to us before moving outward. Older Christians must be disciples to younger Christians. The mark of a strong church is when a Christian disciple empowers another young Christian disciple to become a strong follower of Christ.
The 21st-century church can still strive to seek the lost, but if we fail to confront and correct the disciples that sit at our feet, we have failed in our obedience to Him, and our mission is fruitless.