Just this morning, I was on the phone with a woman almost 700 miles away. As with so many conversations I have with those in ministry, she reluctantly expressed the struggle she and her husband have to not only reach, but also keep people coming to their church and Bible studies.
I can easily relate. As a Bible teacher and lay worker at my home church, it often feels daunting to try and retain people. We are so thrilled when new people come and so discouraged when they don’t come back or when we see people leave. Even though our brains tell us to “trust the Lord, fear not, give thanks and pray” and our mouths may even say the right things, our hearts are still hurt.
In the account of King Hezekiah told in 2 Chronicles 30, the newly crowned king desires to host the Passover feast in Jerusalem. It had been decades since the people had celebrated this important holiday and Hezekiah was seeking to restore the laws of Moses and the decrees of King David in order to get his wicked nation back on track.
First, he reached far. Hezekiah was the king of Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel. At this time in history, God’s people were divided and both the northern and southern kingdoms were a hot mess! The people were violently wicked; they worshiped Baal idols and took no thought for the God of the Bible. Hezekiah had EVERY reason to be discouraged and he had an overwhelming task to do in Judah. It slays me that we see him reach beyond his borders to Israel. Hezekiah was not responsible for the northern kingdom. Yet, he sent invitations for the Passover by messengers, not only throughout his southern kingdom of Judah, but also to the northern kingdom of Israel. His heart was for everyone to have the opportunity to know God.
Second, he ignored the negative. 2 Chronicles 30:10 tells us that as Hezekiah’s messengers went out throughout the land, they were laughed at and mocked.
The very next verse is what inspires me. Verse 11 says, “Nevertheless, however, SOME…” Some came. In reality, the “some” snowballed and ended up being a huge sum. Thousands were restored in their relationship with God as they returned to Jerusalem and, ultimately, to the God of their fathers. The entire nation would experience blessing and revival because of the “some” that did come.
What if the messengers had turned around and went home early? What if they had reported back to Hezekiah, “King, everyone is laughing at us and they think we’re crazy. Sorry, but it’s just not worth the humiliation.”
Imagine if Hezekiah would have given up.
So ask yourself; who does come? Who has God sent for you to disciple, mentor and encourage? Rather than focusing on those who don’t or won’t attend your church or Bible study, praise God for the some who are there. Embrace His timing and trust him to expand your territory as He sees fit. Until then, reach far, ignore the negative and be encouraged.
Jaclyn Rowe is an author and speaker who teaches a weekly Bible class for women ages 18-30 in addition to teaching preschool children through AWANA. A former television talk show host and top ranked speaker for Monster.com, Jaclyn is a sought-after speaker for Bible teaching, as well as personality and etiquette training. Her latest book is a bible study entitled King Hezekiah: Examining a Life of Bold Faith. Visit www.jaclynrowe.com for more information.