Two months ago, I was invited to write an article about the church planting needs in eastern Kentucky for kychurchplanting.com, and I was happy to do so. (You can read it here.) I freely confess now that I have been amazed by the response to that article. Since it was published, I have been contacted by church planters, pastors, missionaries, and others who share a common desire to see a church planting movement spread across the region. And for that, I praise the Lord!
So, now that folks are starting to learn about the spiritual landscape in eastern Kentucky, where do we go from here? As I mentioned at the end of the article, I firmly believe that a church planting movement will spread across the region only after God’s people fervently and frequently pray for such a movement.
However, as much as I want to see a church planting movement in eastern Kentucky, such a movement is severely deficient unless it coincides with a great spiritual harvest of souls. But the good news is that if we witness a great spiritual harvest, I believe that we will also witness a church planting movement throughout the region. In other words, I don’t believe that we will see one without the other. Therefore, I want to spend the next few posts describing how I believe that God would have us pray to that end.
In Matthew 9:35-38, we read: “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’”
In this familiar passage, I believe we can see 3 different components that should be present as we pray for a great spiritual harvest in eastern Kentucky:
- Pray with the proper motivation.
- Pray with the proper understanding.
- Pray with the proper goal.
I will cover each of these in greater detail over the next few posts, but here is a brief summary:
Prayer Component #1: Praying with the Proper Motivation
Jesus saw that the crowds were spiritual orphans. Because of this, he had compassion on them. As you and I pray for a great spiritual harvest across eastern Kentucky and beyond, we must do so because of our love and compassion for our lost neighbors.
Prayer Component #2: Praying with the Proper Understanding
Jesus states the situation very well: “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” That was true in the first century and it is certainly true today. I’ll share more about the vast amounts of lostness throughout the region in a later post, but according to Census Bureau data and the Glenmary Report, approximately 781,000 of the 872,000 Kentuckians who live east of I-75 are unchurched. The fields truly are white unto harvest. Therefore, we must pray with this understanding in mind.
Prayer Component #3: Praying with the Proper Goal
Because of his compassion and his proper understanding of the needs, Jesus commands his disciples to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” That’s the goal: more laborers to be sent out into the harvest throughout eastern Kentucky. As these laborers are sent, our current churches should become healthier and more evangelistic. But many of these sent ones will also start new churches, and these new churches have the potential to reach many people with the gospel as well.
My heart still aches for the people of eastern Kentucky, and I now know that many others share that burden as well. May we unite our hearts in prayer to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest on a daily basis! Will you pray with me?
Note: Part 2 in this series will be coming soon.