How many of you have seen the show Gold Rush?
The show started way back in 2010, and it documented the lives of different families and crews searching for gold in Alaska. Since then, they’ve done multiple seasons and multiple different spin offs with that basic idea of searching for gold.
I think what made the show so popular is that there’s this excitement around striking it rich. But, part of what I like about the show is learning the history behind gold mining, and seeing how the process has changed over the years.
If you’re wondering what this has to do with ministry, just stick with me for a little bit.
The California Gold Rush began in January of 1848, when a man named James Marshall was setting up a water-powered sawmill and noticed gold flakes in the river. He started pulling gold out of the river and ground, and by mid March the secret had gotten out, there was gold in California.
Thousands of people over the next few years would move to California in hopes of getting rich. All you needed in the beginning was a pickaxe, a shovel, and some good luck. But that all changed by around 1850, because all the surface gold was gone, which meant finding gold got a lot more difficult for your average gold miner.
Now, fast forward back to today and our show Gold Rush. The way they find gold today is way different than finding gold in 1848. In order to find a little bit of gold today, they have to move a lot of dirt and rock. The largest mine in Alaska, the Fort Knox Mine, on average processes 33 tons of dirt to get one ounce of gold. And they’re no longer using pickaxes and shovels, they’re using giant trucks and machinery in most cases.
So, why do you need to know this?
Because it’s my belief that Christianity in America has went through a similar change. The percentage of people who identify themselves as Christian has drastically decreased over the past 50 years or so. Church memberships are in a drastic decline, as well as church attendance.
Evangelism is much harder today than it was just 20 or 30 years ago.
Fifty years ago, a pastor could carry around a pickaxe and shovel and turn over some gold nuggets without digging too hard.
That’s not the case anymore.
Today, If you’re going to be a pastor who is reaching new people on a consistent basis, you’re going to have to sift through a ton of dirt.
In order to do that, you’re probably going to need to learn how to use some new tools, for instance social media.
Or, you can keep shoveling and hope you get lucky every now and then.
But I’ll warn you, the miners in 1850 who stuck with that philosophy ended up losing everything.