I recently was invited to attend another church’s leadership council meeting to present the needs of MainStreet as we move into the next phase of launching this new church. These dear “mission friends” have embraced our little MainStreet team with a big bear hug, reaching into their pockets to support us, letting us use their printer/copier, giving me some office space, giving the proceeds of their fall Harvest Dinner Fundraiser toward our mission, inviting me to preach a couple times and invite individuals to prayerfully consider getting involved in our mission. They are even throwing Keri a baby shower this coming Saturday!
On this occasion we came together to discuss and further define the nature of our growing partnership, to discuss the level of support they’re feeling called to provide moving forward, and how to communicate this to the entire congregation.
Leadership in the church, or any volunteer organization, is largely about mobilizing enough people to meet all the needs around us. The needs seem to always outnumber the number of volunteers willing to take them on. There never seems enough to go around — enough money in the budget, enough volunteers, enough days in the week, enough energy in the tank, and so on. But in the “economy of God” we must have faith that God will constantly be working behind the scenes to miraculously provide what is lacking in order for us to accomplish the ministry tasks He has given us.
This kingdom principle is illustrated vividly in the story of the loaves and fishes. Here’s the situation:
1. The disciples recognize an enormous need facing them: thousands of people need to be fed. They are overwhelmed and don’t believe they can possible meet this need before them. Can you relate? As the leadership team and I sat in this room talking about all the needs we’re faced with in fulfilling each of our church’s calls, we could easily sympathize with the disciples. This church could easily have concluded that “there’s no way we can possibly support another church when we’re busy enough trying to keep up with our own ministry load.” So, faced with this overwhelming need of thousands of hungry people in their midst, what solution do the disciples recommend?
2. WORLDLY ECONOMY: Let them help themselves. “Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat,” the disciples tell Jesus. This sounds like good common sense. This mindset gels beautifully with the American way of capitalism. “No free handouts.” “God helps those who help themselves.” This is a proto-Darwinianism solution: Let those who can fend for themselves survive. As a church planter at the mercy of other people’s generosity, and overwhelmed with the enormity of the task before us and not knowing where we’re going to find enough people and resources to survive, I sat in that meeting hoping our partner church would not choose this option. “Sorry, Jeremy, we can see that your needs are overwhelming (like trying to feed a crowd of 5,000 people with only a few loaves and fishes), but we’re going to have to send you away to provide for yourself. Good luck!” This was NOT how our friends responded. Continue reading God’s Economy: Give Him What You Have (Mk 6:35-44)