My wheels are turning this morning after some discussion in church last night, and with my husband. We were reviewing some of the material offered in the Purpose Driven Church.(that is not an endorsement one way or the other; we were looking at something specific). It divides the categories to examine as the following:
We could easily conclude that we are progressing well in the areas of 1, 2, and even 5, although that is where my thoughts are this morning.
I think most people (whether correct in doing so or not) have Mission in their minds as Mission(S), plural. The thing that takes place mostly overseas and involves the direct spreading of the gospel, through all sorts of means. Actual witnessing and teaching, as well as serving the temporal, physicial needs for food, medicine, literature, etc.
In contrast I think most people (myself included here) view Ministry as the thing or things that take place under the auspices of the local church. Although every individual within that local church may well have his/her own ministry. I think of Ministry in some of the following ways: the ministry of the Word through preaching; the ministry of the Word through singing; the ministries of the various small groups: youth, seniors, children, Bible study groups; Ministry of meal preparations for those who are sick, death in the family, etc.; sending cards of encouragment; counseling, and on we could go. This is just the tip of the proverbial iceburg.
Here's where my thoughts get stuck. These "ministries" I just mentioned are all so NECESSARY and yet so CYCLICAL. These things have to be kept up in order to effectively meet the needs of a congregation. They also take up a tremendous amount of time and energy. And I'm just thinking of a small church like ours! However, in all our efforts to serve the needs of our local churches, we can let the evangelism/discipleship fall by the wayside. And we all have our excuses for why that is so. But if we neglect this thing that was so important to the heart of Jesus, and we fail to bring NEW converts into His Kingdom, are we not being disobedient?
I confess the topic makes me uncomfortable. I used to be far more zeroed in on thoughts of evanglism due in large part to my geographic location. :) Since having children, I consider that to be my biggest MINISTRY, and I also want the church to help me in that MINISTRY. But does that excuse me from MISSIONS? EVANGELISM? DISCIPLESHIP OF NEW BELIEVERS? Somehow I think not. Yet I spend all my time and efforts on the rearing of my children and secondly on how I can effectively minister in our "WORSHIP" services week after week. (AND PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT I RECOGNIZE THE IMMENSE VALUE AND IMPORTANCE OF THESE TASKS, ESPECIALLY THE PARENTING.)
I don't want to be disobedient to God's plan for spreading the truth of His gospel. I still think this topic is a little tricky, but I am planning to spend more time examining ways that I can do better in this area. And out of curiosity, I wonder if any of you are seeing growth in your churches due to NEW believers? I would love to hear your stories in that case.
And I would love to hear any of your thoughts on all of this. I have barely shared a smidgen of my own, so I know you all probably have much to offer!
Blessings on you today.