To be honest, I am sometimes critical of people who live to gather more information and knowledge but don’t do much with what they know, especially when it comes to world evangelism. But this attitude is not always right. God used Ralph Winter and the information he obtained to bring to the church’s attention the concept of unreached people groups. God used Luis Bush and his information to bring forth the concept of the 10/40 Window.
One of the things that troubles me the most is the fact that today—right now—we have more information than ever before about every possible aspect of the Christian life and missions. From knowing the Lord and living for Him, to raising godly children and our responsibilities as followers of Christ, you can walk into a Christian bookstore and choose from several hundred books. You can find more information and resources in our world today than at any other time in history.
Yet despite this fact, one-half of the world still waits to hear the Gospel! We have all kinds of information on every country and people group, especially through books like Operation World,1 more than we could ever imagine! But still, the tragedy is that with all this information, more than 96 percent of all the resources and personnel out there are used to meet our own wants. We forget the more than 2.7 billion people who still need to hear the Good News!
There is such a tremendous imbalance between what we know and what we do. I once heard it said that there are over 1,000 commentaries on the book of Acts in the English language alone. But how many churches are there that really resemble the early church model found in the book of Acts? In other words, we are so fed with information, and our “spiritual knowledge” is so blown out of proportion, that we can hardly stand or walk.
It’s easier to just take one side and say, “What is the use of all this information? All the information in the world will not reach one single person.” But the truth is, we need information. We need the U.S. Center for World Missions. We need AD 2000 and Beyond. We need the Joshua Project and Global Mapping.
Some are called to generate information, and some are called to get out there on the mission field. Personally, I want to be one of those on the field. But I thank God for those who are generating the information, too. The people on the information side of things discover unreached people groups. Now we have hundreds of unreached people groups identified so that we can plant churches there. Thank God that we can do something with the information. This is the beauty of balance, the Body of Christ working together.
One of the greatest challenges for us today is to be not only hearers of the Word, but to become doers of the Word. This issue is even more serious when it comes to our responsibility to world evangelism. What we need to do individually, in our personal lives right where we live and serve, is to go out of our way to find opportunities in which we can be involved in reaching the lost world. Whether it is through prayer, sharing or going—whatever way the Lord shows us, each of us must take responsibility and do everything we can to get the job done.
Information without action is like shooting blanks. You know exactly how to load, aim and pull the trigger, but there is nothing effective in it. Information without action is like a pilot flying missions in a cockpit simulator without ever getting into a real plane. Our problem today in missions is there are too many spectators who know all about how things are supposed to be done and too few who are actually daily living it. It’s like a football game; there are thousands of football fans who know all about the game but only a handful of players actually sweating it out on the field. We must cultivate a balance between information and action in our daily lives.
1 Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk, Operation World (Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster Publishing, 2001).
© 2003 by KP Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.