He said to his disciples, "The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few
I don’t know if it should bother me so much when people use this verse in context of evangelism. It sounds like we’re to treat people like a harvest in that we are supposed to snatch up and convert as many people as possible and as fast as we can. We usually think of the lack of workers as a lack of Christians. Every time we covert someone we get another worker to do the same job. This way of thinking puts the emphasis on the people who are being converted. That the harvest is somehow being lazy and the workers are trying their best but they are still few. But read the verse in its context:
35 Jesus traveled through all the cities and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And wherever he went, he healed people of every sort of disease and illness. 36 He felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn't know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd. 37 He said to his disciples, "The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields."
This verse is talking a lot more about missions and helping those in need than it is about making more Christians. Jesus is looking out on the poorest of the poor. Their problems are huge and who is helping them? The wealthy religious leaders? No they are too busy following their trivial laws, ironically ignoring the greatest law, thinking that they will bring the Kingdom of God. Are the Great political leaders helping? No, their taxes are what cripples these people and bring them into poverty. Jesus sees this and understands and even has pity on the people’s problems. He knows that the workers are few so he calls His followers, as lowly as they ,may be to work this harvest. Not by creating more disciples of Jesus necessarily (although that may be the next result) but by feeding them, healing them, and responding to their needs. The harvest is now out of the hands of those who should have been doing it in the first place and now it is in the hands of Jesus’ followers. It is our task to respond now. It is our job. The workers are few so who will step up to the plate? Why not us?