By Jim Sorgatz
Your church staff and lay leaders recently attended a training entitled, “Joining Jesus on His Mission…How to Be an Everyday Missionary” led by Rev. Greg Finke. Many of us found the presentation and his book by the same title to be very relevant as we do ministry today. One idea, in particular, hit home with me. See if you agree with the following thoughts:
For many years, church families have been engaged in reaching out to others in various ways. These acts of Christian outreach demonstrate our response to Jesus’ command to love one another, just as He has loved us. Many of these activities fulfill a need for both the recipient and the doer. They are good, necessary, and God-pleasing.
However, in many cases, no new relationships are established with those being served. We just simply make a difference, but do not make a new friend, and certainly do not make a new disciple for Jesus. Our acts of kindness rank with those performed by local governmental agencies or secular service organizations.
I was recently talking with one of our members who had served as the facilities manager here at St. Luke. He related that while on duty, many individuals would wander into our building or walk across our property. At first, he would simply inquire of them as to their intention, and then gently nudge them to leave the premises.
However, after seeing one after another walk away, he realized that he may be missing an opportunity. They seemed to have a deeper need. As a Christian, he had something special to offer them. So he began by asking, “What is your story?”
As conversations continued, he saw opportunities to witness to the love of Christ in his own life and demonstrate a caring attitude. In one particular case, a man just released from the jail came by to ask for help with bus fare. After obliging him, he began a conversation that led to an ongoing friendship and regular discussions about Jesus. One day he learned that this individual had again fallen out of favor with the law and was now back in jail. During a visit with him he learned that his friend was leading a regular Bible study with his fellow inmates. How about that!
I was reminded that to make a difference is good, to make a friend is better, but to make a disciple is best. Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples. The cost on my part includes a commitment, some of my time, and a love for others. It means that I “like people” close up, not just love them from a distance. To participate with Jesus in the process of making a new disciple is indeed humbling. I find it interesting that He chose this method to build His Kingdom. Multiplication grows the Church much faster than addition, because disciples make disciples.