Moses was wandering in the desert looking for grass for his flock of sheep and keeping an eye out for predators. He stumbled upon a bush that was ablaze but not burning up. As he approached he heard a voice: Take off your sandals, Moses, this is holy ground. Then God told Moses that he wanted Moses to go to Egypt and confront the Pharaoh about letting God’s people, the Hebrew tribes, go free. Moses immediately started back peddling. ‘But I can’t speak publically.’ God said he would send silver tongued Aaron. ‘But they won’t believe me.’ God asks what was in Moses’ hand and when Moses responded that it was his staff, God showed him how to use it effectively to do what God was asking. This continues for awhile as God patiently addresses Moses’ concerns. But there came a point when God simply said, ‘Moses, just do it!’
What does “Just do it!” mean for congregations with fewer resources? It means that remembering who we are and what God calls all disciples and all congregations to do, use what resources you have to join Jesus in being a kingdom blessing today. Not tomorrow, not in a month or two when it is more convenient, not in a year or two when we have more money or more people. Just do it, now! Start where you are. Respond to the needs of those God brings your way. Use what you have – the passions, the energy, the commitment, the connections, the skills, the experiences, the buildings, and the finances – and respond prayerfully to Jesus’ call TODAY to join him in ministry. Go with the flow and then see what God blesses.
Maybe that seems just too spontaneous and simple. If so, here are a few hints that might make it less so.
· Assume that you are being invited to join Jesus in ministry: Every follower of Jesus is invited to slip with him into the yoke of serving others (Matthew 11). Being in ministry isn’t an add-on to discipleship. It is an essential component. As followers of King Jesus we are each asked personally to bring his Kingdom’s influence into every situation: home, work, school, the grocery store, driving and the ball field.
· Watch for where you see God at work: Where do you see human needs and feel in your heart a sense of compassion? Where do you see the buds of forgiveness, healing, empowerment, meaning, release, reconciliation, ‘coming to one’s senses,’ or new beginnings that need to be carefully nurtured into full bloom? “The Son can’t independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does.”(John 5:19) Like Jesus, we are to ride the wave of God activity.
· Keep it personal: Don’t imagine a big program or a grand weekly event. Is there a person in need that God has brought to the attention of people in your congregation? Start with “one of the least of these” responding to Jesus’ invitation to join him. There may be many people in need in your community; start with just one person. Learn their name. Hear their story. Respond as if Jesus were in your place.
· Keep it simply: I have often found myself imagining all that needs to be done and feeling so overwhelmed that I have done nothing. We are not called to fix everything. We are called to do what we can. We may not be able to cure childhood hunger, but we can do something about the child who lives next door to the church and is hungry today.
· Start now: Don’t be like the scribe and Pharisee who saw the man beaten up beside the road on the way to Jerusalem. They knew God’s command to care and to help someone in need. Probably it wasn’t convenient. Probably they weren’t sure exactly what to do. They most likely felt guilty as they glanced back at the man in their rear view mirror as they drove on by. Picking up our crosses in sacrificial service (Luke 9:23) often isn’t convenient and often calls us out of our comfort zone. We don’t need to form a study committee and vote on it. We need to act now.
· Go with the flow: We often don’t know what is going to happen when we respond obediently to Jesus’ call to join him in service to others. It doesn’t have to be all figured out ahead of time. Can’t be. So, go with the flow. See how God blesses. Watch for how things unfold. Respond accordingly, staying engaged as long as it seems God is leading you forward.
But after all this is said, the bottom line is still: No more excuses. Just do it!
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Dr. Jeff Stiggins
The Center for Congregational Excellence