What May the Church Learn from the Gideons?
If you go to the County Fair you may be given one of their Bibles. If you stay in a motel, you may see one of their Bibles. If you go to a flea market or attend a book sale, you may have the opportunity to purchases dozens of their color New Testaments.
If I were to ask you, “What is the mission of the Gideons International?”, what would you say?
At the end of 2019, the Gideons stopped printing Bibles. People were laid off and buildings that housed 170 printing companies and their presses were closed. Gideons have been known for their Bibles. They have distributed over 2 billion of them. They are everywhere including hospitals, colleges, fairs, trains, prisons and military bases.
But now, the 122-year-old ministry is changing. Printing more Bibles is no longer needed due to overproduction in the past and now some motel chains will not accept them.
The Gideons are in a period of refocusing and rebalancing their ministry. They have reminded themselves of their original purpose: to save souls. Printing Bibles was a part of that mission. But they now feel they need to return to their original mission of saving souls. They printed the Bibles and gave them to traveling businessmen who would in turn attempt to convert others to Christ using those Bibles. For the first 10 years of their existence they did not distribute Bibles. But somehow their method got confused with their purpose. They are seeing a resurgence in interest in what they do. They are attempting to recruit new members and their emphasis upon soul winning is helping in that quest.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not against distributing Bibles. EEM is a great example of Bible distribution that is paying great dividends in the way of souls for Christ. However, I am concerned if we have lost our original mission. Possibly we have gotten our method (ministry) confused with our mission.
Jesus said, “Go and make disciples….” The church exists to “make God’s wisdom known.” And, I am ALL for ministry. Sometimes our ministry is the method that we have confused with the mission. How far have we gotten from the Lord’s original mission for His church?
Maybe, we like the Gideons, need to take some time to reexamine what we are doing and why we are doing it. If you are familiar with the Lord’s church and if you read such papers as the Christian Chronicle, you know the Lord’s church is doing a lot of good all over the world. Yet how much of it is directly related to winning souls to Jesus Christ?
In the arena of church ministry, much of our ministry is internal and maintenance. Both types of ministries are necessary because they contribute either directly or indirectly to the spiritual growth of Christians. But how many of our ministries are directly aimed at winnings souls to the Lord? How many of our ministries are intentionally designed to win lost folks to the Lord?
All I am encouraging us to do is to learn from the Gideons. Let’s don’t get our methods mixed up with our God-given mission. Let’s not be afraid to rethink how and why we do the things we do in the Lord’s church.
Possibly you see other lessons we can learn. Please share those with me. Above all, let us all be diligent in serving the Lord and pointing all men to Jesus. Trav