I just returned from a lunch meeting with two church leaders and the missionary lady who oversees their network. The lady (I’ll call her Linda) has been at work in this city for more than 10 years and now helps oversee the leaders of a network of several churches. They also run a number of small groups. A friend I made about 9 months ago introduced me to one of these church leaders who brought Linda along to talk about how we can help to bless and support their church.
We spent a good bit of time talking through the different materials and trainings we have available as resources. We told them we’re really not interested in starting our own ministry from the ground up but rather, we want to resource the existing churches, bless them, and cast vision for forward movement. We asked in what way we can be most useful to them in support.
After a while of sharing Linda finally leaned forward and asked, “All right, this all sounds well and good but if we accept your training and help, what do you expect in return? What’s the catch?”
This breaks my heart. In fact I couldn’t help but nervously laugh and tell her I was so sorry she had to ask this. And then I went on to explain that our vision is to see this city reached and transformed. To see the name of Jesus glorified in the whole city. We recognize as a small group of people that we simply cannot have a big enough impact on this city by ourselves.If we are serious about transformation then we need to see where we can be of most use and go and serve in those areas. I told her we’re not here to make a name for ourselves, but we’re here to try to make much of the name of Jesus, and the way we think we can best accomplishing that is by serving the existing church.
I recognize there are a lot of places where pioneer work is essential, and certainly people are called to plant churches. However, we as a group feel our role in this place is to encourage and cast vision to the local existing church to grow, and plant new churches. This city is much less in need of new churches networks and much more in need of vision, unity, and a heart for God and the city.
Sadly, I also understand her concern. Just 8 months ago I met with another missionary man to whom we offered support, development, and training for his church leaders. He said no way, because his experience was that people would train his people and then take them away from him and his church. He then proceeded to say, “Unless someone comes to me and tells me specifically they’re leaving this church, they are mine, and I’m not sharing them with anyone.” I wish I was making that up. But I’m not. We told Linda we’re Kingdom minded, and she likes the idea, but she’s skeptical we can really be that way. I believe without Christ we cannot be, but with Him we can.
Have you thought about your role in your city? In your state? Or nation or the world? Are you seeking the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of your church? Are you seeking the name of Jesus, and if so, are you releasing people to go where they feel called to go? Are you willing to accept that your church/ministry/small group is not going to be the perfect fit for everyone? Are you willing to consider that other people's efforts will be blessed by the Lord despite the fact that they do things different than you? Or even though they have a slightly different theology than you? Are you raising up leaders who love the Lord with all their heart so you can feel good about any realm they decide to go serve in? Or if your people differ with you in their thoughts of church government are you not allowing them to do what God has called them to do?
Are you Kingdom minded?
Pray for your city to be changed, so the name of Jesus is elevated higher than the reputation of any one church network. And pray your city would be known for it’s love of Christ, and the Christians of your city would be known for their love for one another. Pray the churches and other ministries in your city would have a Kingdom mentality, and pray for God to show you where your weaknesses are in serving His Kingdom instead of your own.