Faces in the Crowd

February 28, 2012 — Leave a comment

If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit New York City, I highly recommend it. My wife and I were there for the first time several years ago, and there’s just something intriguing about the city.

We saw many, many people along the sidewalks and tourist sites. But the subway stations amazed me the most. Michelle and I joked that you could always tell who the out-of-towners were because they’d say, “Excuse me” when they brushed against you, and many of the New Yorkers said, “Excuse you.”

We didn’t know much about these people, but they were people of all colors and nationalities who spoke many different languages. They also undoubtedly had very real needs — just like you and me. And most of them were clearly in a hurry to get wherever they were going.

Of course, you don’t have to go to a big city to see people. And even in rural America, people seem increasingly hurried due to the busyness of life. Let me challenge you to stop for a few moments and think about this question:

How many people do you see up close in the course of your normal week? Be sure to consider . . .

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Co-Workers/Colleagues
  • Shoppers in stores, buying gas, etc.
  • Delivery people
  • People eating and serving in restaurants
  • Parents and grandparents at kids’ sporting events

Do you have a number in mind? Write it down.

Think about your number. How many of those people would you guess are involved in a local Bible-believing church? (If you have no clue, for the purposes of this activity, assume they are not involved in church.) Write  down your number. How many of the people you see each day do you know are professing believers in Jesus Christ? Write it down.

Now, add your last two numbers together — then subtract that total from your original number.

Don’t worry; you’re never going to get a completely accurate number. This number simply represents your ‘faces in the crowd’ — distinct individuals in your path who may not have a saving relationship with Christ. I’m sure you have much more interaction — or potential for interaction — with some of these individuals than with others.

OK, now for the tough question:

Of your number, how many of those people have you told about what Jesus has done for you?

If you’re like the vast majority of church-going people, that number is pretty small. Shameful, really. It makes you want to re-think your numbers, doesn’t it? Surely there must be an error in the math.

Well, we are, of course, not dealing with scientific numbers but hypothetical ones. And for a number of us — particularly those of us in ministry — our ‘faces in the crowd’ number was much smaller than it should have been simply because we often find ourselves surrounded by other believers. If we’re not careful, we can become so insulated from the world that we have very little influence on it. I’m often reminded that Jesus has called us to be light to a world that is lost and needs to know Him. And flashlights and candles show up most in the darkness — not when surrounded by other lights. Our constant challenge is to be intentional about putting ourselves in places where there are pockets of darkness.

As you go through your week, I encourage you to look around you for opportunities to share the Good News. Pray each day that God will provide you with an opportunity to share Him with someone. Look people in the eye and try to see them as God sees them — beautiful, special, and loved.

Here’s a great music video by Brandon Heath to help anchor this reminder in your life:

Can you recall the last time you intentionally stopped what you were doing or changed your schedule in order to respond to someone in need? Share the Gospel? Offer to pray with someone you didn’t know?

Did you like this post? If so, you might also be interested in these previous posts:

5 ideas for church growth

Joy to the World!

4 keys to a Christ-centered doomsday response

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