In a significant passage related to ministry and missions we read these words. “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field (Matthew 9:35-38).’”
One of the marks of Gospel centered churches is an intentional effort to pray for and to raise up those who would answer God’s call for full time ministry. And to provide mentoring and ministry experience to them to ready them for a lifetime of service.
When was the last time you can remember corporate prayer in your church that God would raise up those who would give their lives to full time service? Yes Jesus asked us to do just that.
This is not to indicate that God has an A team and a B team – those in full time ministry and those who are not. It is to respond to the words of Jesus that there are many in our world who are harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd and He is asking us to pray that individuals will step forward to share the Good News.
The minority (wealthy world) is often driven by careers, salaries, a secure life and the avoidance of danger. Those who choose to work outside of their own culture often pay a significant personal price for doing so. Yet it is one of the primary ways that the Gospel is spread and eternal destines determined. Congregations that encourage their people to consider a life vocation in ministry and who are willing to mentor, encourage and stand behind those who fit the qualifications and are ready to go multiply their ministry influence in huge ways.
As the letters to the seven churches in Revelation indicates, God not only evaluates our individual lives but he sees the spiritual vibrancy or lack of it in congregations as well. How we view our passion for the Gospel becoming well known in our community and world would certainly be an indicator of both our obedience and our passion – as well as the joy we together enjoy in the journey.
Generous churches, like generous people, see beyond themselves and their mission is not primarily about themselves but about impacting lives, communities and the globe with the Gospel. They give away their time, energy, resources and love so that the name of Jesus is lifted high and His name becomes well known. They love on their community, they love on the unloved, and they love on the unsaved. So much so that whole communities know that they are a congregation of love.
Generous congregations love when people come to them but they are focused on going to others, meeting them on their ground and ministering to them on their turf. They look for ways to meet needs, share truth and love people in the name of Jesus. They don't wait for people to come to them but find ways to go to others including sending their own and reaching beyond their borders.
Life is not about us but about Jesus. It is true for us personally and it is true for congregations. Just as many Christ followers don't get that, so many congregations don't get that. But those who do see the fruit of their generosity as people and communities are impacted with His love and we are energized by our Christ centered actions and God's smile on our lives.
How many people found Jesus through the ministry of your congregation in the past year? It is worth keeping track of and working to see it increase. How many people has your congregation sent into full time ministry? It also is worth counting and keeping track of. It is one of the markers of a Gospel centered church and it is what Jesus longs for.