Friday, May 15, 2015

Ministry is Messy

When Jesus walked on earth He was often criticized by the religious elite for spending too much time with sinners. The way Jesus responded to these criticisms was to remind them that the healthy do not need a doctor, only the sick do. The clear implication of His metaphor was that He had come to seek and to save those who needed Him most, those who were still lost in their sin. Yet, in our modern North American culture, most churches actually spend the bulk of their energy trying to attract those who are already Christians. There are many reasons for this, but perhaps the most obvious is that Christians are the easiest to reach. They speak our church language and agree with the primary principles of our theology. But is that what Jesus did?

If we followed the example of Jesus, we would be reaching those who are not yet Christian. This is much more complicated. It takes a lot of energy and effort. It often takes a much longer period of time than we anticipated. It is almost always “messy” in a variety of practical ways.

I recall a time with I was reminded of messy aspect of reaching non-Christians. We had a large crowd for a special worship service. About half the crowd were teenagers, most of whom were from non-Christian families. Though the bulk of the teens were very focused on the worship service, a small group of young men were sitting over to the side of the sanctuary and were talking during the entire service. Two of the ladies had already gone over and attempted to quiet them, but they boys did not comply. Though I was sitting on the platform, another man was preaching, so I was watching the entire affair. About half way through the sermon they got so loud that it was becoming difficult to pay attention to the young man who was preaching. I left the platform and made my way over to where they were sitting. It was my intention to send the “leader of the pack” to a different seat and then sit with the rest of the group for the remainder of the service. Needless to say, my plan did not work out so well. The leader of the pack decided to make a scene. He said a few obscene words and drew back his arm to assault me. One of the deacons, a former Marine, immediately intervened and escorted troubled young man out of the building. I wish I could say the situation ended there, but it did not. The young man became even more belligerent in the parking lot and the deacons regretfully had to call the police to resolve the situation, not exactly the way a pastor would want a church service to end.

Reaching out to non-Christians is messy. I understand why most churches do not bother to do it. But if churches are not willing to get their hands dirty and reach out to people with problems, then who will help non-Christians find Jesus?



Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has served as a pastor, church planter, author and denominational leader in New England since 1993. He is the proud father of three adult children, a cancer survivor and the author of 8 books. You can find all of his books at http://www.amazon.com/Dr.-Terry-W.-Dorsett/e/B00405U4NY

14 comments:

  1. Words for the church to ponder over

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  2. Terry....This bolg is so timely to our youth group. We had, perhaps the "messiest" Youth Group this week. It also involved asking youth to leave. Please be in prayer for our youth workers.

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    1. Praying for FCC and the youth group.

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  3. I think this is relevant to our youth ministry, in general. I don't know if people understand the pain so many of our youth are dealing with. People judge them so easily on the street and in our church. Take time to learn their whole story and understand why they have built walls so high.

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    1. Praying for FCC and the youth group.

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  4. I remember this incident! This truth is also especially apparent in our current ministry on Summer St. People need love the most when they are the most unlovable (occasionally we have to love them from a distance with prayer until they can be safe again). Amen Terry!

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    1. Shannon, if Randy had not jumped up and intervened, I'm sure I would have gone home with a black eye. Makes me appreciate good deacons!!!

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    2. I remember this incident well too. I can tell you that now this young man would be very sorry for his behavior. While he has not yet come to Christ, we stay in touch and he has become much more responsible, stays out of trouble and works to support himself. He apologized to me recently because he used a swear word in front of me and realized it might offend me. Please pray for his salvation.

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    3. Never stopped praying, he is on my special list

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  5. Word Up !!! "Reaching out to non-Christians is messy. I understand why most churches do not bother to do it. But if churches are not willing to get their hands dirty and reach out to people with problems, then who will help non-Christians find Jesus?" Thanks Terry.

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  6. Oh the stories we could tell.

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