(January 24, 2022) Robert McQuillan challenges…
Most of us are ‘moving on’ into 2022 believing that ongoing tragedies such as covid-19 won’t hinder us from enjoying life, and doing whatever God wants us to be about. Whether our church is a ‘Zoom’ one – as many churches are now called – or with limited attendance, individual members have needs, as do those outside the traditional four walls.
Previous years’ catchcries such as ’Moving On’ or ‘Moving Forward’ or ‘Moving Ahead’ are being echoed afresh. This is good, for we all need such inspiration so as not to be living in the negatives and disappointments of the past couple of years.
And it’s been interesting to hear of pastors – backed with good sermons and challenges – encouraging their people to be involved in growing their church, that it’s all not just up to leadership.
But… I’ve also heard some sad outcomes! Take this story for example…
Jon (not real name… but, interestingly, means ‘gift of God’!) responded to such a challenge some time back to help his church move on, move forward.
Seeing a great need among the men, he became burdened and very enthused to play his part by running a men’s group… but sadly, to his surprise he wasn’t greatly encouraged by his pastor (who had just delivered a challenging message about being involved!).
In fact Jon was rather discouraged, especially when he was told that ‘only a minister could run such a group.’ This denouncement was followed by a pompous ‘We’ll get a group going’ in response to his genuine heartfelt sharing.
Jon wasn’t looking for any ‘title’… he just wanted to help. Balanced all round, he was soundly grounded in the word, caring about people and very adequate, believing firmly in the Holy Spirit’s assistance.
Time went by but nothing was actually set up. Jon kept observing that a lot of men needed to meet with other guys and share from their hearts, that they didn’t seem to want to talk to some pastor, especially a young unmarried, worldly-inexperienced one, someone not balanced in understanding biblical principles.
Jon sensed that he was to privately reach out to and look after some of the troubled guys he knew. But… not in defiance of church’s leadership, blind though they were to what he was observing.
Sharing with some godly, senior Christian men, one recalled the great truth of 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 that every Christian is ‘a minister’ and can be, should be, involved in some way sharing the good news. That Paul had clearly stated, ‘It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant.’
The term ‘minister’, Jon was told, was diakonos – servant, like himself. But still Jon obediently left the mens’ overall need with his church’s oversight.
A men’s group with so much potential and a great future commenced. But… under the leadership of ‘Sandy,’ youngish and very inexperienced. In fact, Jon had been concerned when he had heard ‘Sandy’ preach a few times – misquoting and misinterpreting scriptures – as well as learning about bad advice given to some men.
Unfortunately for that church, Jon and his family felt to go to elsewhere. In God’s timing, his insight, heart and vision were quickly recognised and he was warmly invited to take over his new church’s failing men’s group – and it became so successful as men were touched, challenged and freed from many hang-ups.
There’s an old saying: ‘A man’s ministry makes way for itself!’ Don’t know who first expounded this but it’s based on Proverbs 18:16NASB, ‘A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.’
Dr Miles Munroe’s comments on this powerful verse: ‘God has put a gift or talent in every person that the world will make room for. It is this gift that will enable you to fulfil your vision. It will make a way for you in life. It is in exercising this gift that you will find real fulfilment, purpose, and contentment in your work.’
Jon exercised his gift of caring and was used by God to inspire guys to be men of faith, trusting God in the worst of circumstances, to move ahead beyond current personal issues.
No, Jon never became a pastor, didn’t feel led. But he was recognised as a minister of Christ, a man with a mission and decided ministry. He saw a need and filled the gap! As Dr Robert Schuller once said, ‘Find a need and fill it!’ (And Wayne Swift, Acts Global Churches wrote this month… 2022? Find a Need and Fill It). Jon still does, simply referring to himself as a follower, a servant of Christ.
‘Servant ministering’ is for all. Such lay-ministering is needed in the very church – ‘ordinary’ Christians reaching out to others and praying for them where there are needs. And reaching out to the community, especially taking God-given opportunities to share with those who don’t know Christ.
The truth is that anyone of us can be good neighbours to the local Christian family! No one has to carry a pastoral salutation to bless someone! Paul has much to say about Christian men and women whatever age being Spirit-filled people of action and momentum. He wrote…Filling a gap
- those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires’ (Romans 8:5b).
- ‘God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God Himself is behind it all’ (1 Corinthians12:6).
- ‘Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ – that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective’ (Colossians 3:2 Message).
This principle is definitely for every Christian, not just church leaders, to minister to the whole body of Christ. Obviously, God wants us all to be free – unbound by anything that causes us not to be men and women of momentum.
No wonder James writes: ‘But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God – the free life! – even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action’ (James 1:25Mge).
1. Church leaders
Leaders should be open to enabled church members being willing, gifted and called to help build their local church – Jesus’ church!
2. Active Christian family
This article is an encouragement to everyone to be involved, not just the Jon’s! It relates to God’s plan for your life whoever you are. It involves your talents and skills, life’s experiences, hopefully your dreams in God, the fulfilment of his promises for you.
In some way, no matter how small, we can all assist our brothers and sisters in Christ! And kids needing reaching and blessing.
We can, should want to, give each other a hand in life. Again an encouragement from Paul… Galatians 6:2Mge, ‘Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law.’
3. The marketplace outside the church
I’ve written about this harvest field several times… so many opportunities are ‘out there’ beyond the church in the marketplace of life, especially when people are hindered re church bulk attendance these days!
In reality this is the law of love – John 13:35 set by Jesus: ‘I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.’ He certainly reached to the whoevers around him and met needs.
May we all move ahead this year and in so doing advance the kingdom. It happened in Jesus’ day simply because He moved in the Spirit to help needy people mentally, emotionally and physically – it can happen today too. Jesus was one man and so He commissioned disciples.
Whoever may be pastoring whatever local church is only one person and can’t cover or do everything!
May today’s disciples… followers of Jesus, male and female, be people of action – a moving forward force!