I remember seeing a picture of a starry sky with galaxies and planets of different sizes and shapes. It was projected on a giant screen covering an entire wall. The wall looked radiant blue, all covered with amazingly beautiful designs of planets. A ray of light went from top to bottom, and somewhere in the middle of that thin ray was a small, almost invisible speck. That was our planet! So tiny in an immeasurable macrocosm. So small, but so precious to God that He came to redeem it!
Jesus created the church, His own microcosm on earth, to redeem people “from every nation, tribe, people and language” (Rev. 7:9, NIV). Everyone on this planet matters to Him. That’s why mission should matter to us. Here are some inspiring details of the mission report of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for 2018:
Church work has been established in 213 out of 235 countries and areas of the world.
More than 1 million new members have been added every year during the past 15 successive years.
About every 23 seconds a new member joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church family during the past two years.
Nearly 59,000 former members were baptized and rejoined the church.¹
These are good figures. Especially encouraging is the number of former members who returned to the church. This number should grow. Member retention, discipleship, and reclaiming are matters of crucial importance.² But in spite of more than 1 million new members in 2018, net growth was only 687,432. We lost 611,467 members! This loss comprised about 44 percent of accessions and is slightly higher than in 2017, when it was 42 percent.³
Who are these people? Missing for many years but still on membership lists of local congregations? Those who moved out and did not reconnect with the church? Those who left struggling with difficulties, temptations, or conflicts in their congregations? Are they young people, new converts, or long-term members? Does everyone really matter to us?
As congregations differ in size and composition, they also differ in atmosphere and in their approach to nurture and discipleship. We should be concerned about how people feel in our congregations. We need to make sure that they receive grace-filled support for their spiritual journeys and everyday challenges, because every person matters. What’s the most desirable outcome of the mission of the local congregation? Is it not that the people it reaches will be part of the great multitude on the sea of glass—every one of them?
Remember, every person on this tiny speck matters to God!