Saturday, June 02, 2007

Ministry by Hanging Out

If Jesus were a pastor, how would he spend his time?

How much time do you think he would spend . . .

writing job descriptions?

attending committee meetings?

overseeing the construction of a new building?

designing a direct-mail postcard?

raising money?

organizing programs?

writing sermons?

developing strategic plans?

He didn't seem to be very concerned about these things when he was training the very first members of the whole Church.

He spent a fair amount of his time speaking to gathered crowds. But most of his time appears to have been invested in just hanging out with his disciples. Here are just a few examples:

Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum (Matthew 4:13).

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers (Matthew 4:18).

Jesus went throughout Galilee (Matthew 4:23).

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them (Matthew 5:1–2).

When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him (Matthew 8:1).

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him (Matthew 8:23).

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples (Matthew 9:10).

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore (Matthew 13:1–2).

As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him (Matthew 20:29).

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately (Matthew 24:3).

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper . . . (Matthew 26:6).

Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them (Mark 2:13).

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain (Mark 2:23).

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?" (Mark 8:27).

After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately . . . (Mark 9:28).

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the road?" (Mark 9:33).

Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan (Mark 10:1).

When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this (Mark 10:10).

They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way (Mark 10:32).

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately . . . (Mark 13:3).

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom (Luke 4:16).

While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along . . . (Luke 5:12).

Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table (Luke 7:36).

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them . . . (Luke 9:18).

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him . . . (Luke 9:57).

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way . . . (Luke 10:38).

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1).

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding (John 2:1–2).

Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well (John 4:6).

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him . . . (John 9:1–2).

Now, some will argue that "just hanging out" is irresponsible and unfocused. But they miss the point. Properly understood hanging out is more like a spiritual discipline. Intentional hanging out is costly.

So what do you think?

Pastor Rod

"Helping You Become the Person God Created for You to Be"


jeff franczak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jeff franczak said...

This is a great topic. I have a few thoughts I’d like to share.

Jesus didn’t send his disciples out to gather the people into the Temple. Instead, Jesus gathered disciples unto Himself as He traveled from town-to-town. Jesus purposefully went to different types of people groups: Judeans, Galileans, Idumeans, and Samaritans. He lived among the people and he genuinely and selflessly loved them and cared for them. He later sent pairs of His disciples out to various towns to live among the people and share the Gospel. In addition to all this, we know that He certainly did occasionally teach at the Temple.

The Apostle Paul’s ministry was somewhat similar; he went from city-to-city throughout the Roman Empire, living in those cities, sharing the Gospel, discipling new Christians, planting churches, and later re-visiting and encouraging those churches. In addition, it was his custom to teach first in the synagogue of a city.

God did not require us to “clean up our act” first and then come to Him. (Although many of us may remember a time when we thought that’s what we were supposed to do.) Instead, He sends the Savior to us as we are. The Father initiates our restoration by drawing us to Jesus through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Only after we surrender and are redeemed, does the “cleaning up” (sanctification) begin and continue for a lifetime.

Our hearts and actions should be similar. We shouldn’t expect people that do not have a relationship with God to bring themselves to a Sunday worship service. (Though some will through the work of the Holy Spirit.) We need to go to people where they are (spiritually and physically). We need to love and accept people just as they are. And that means we need to intend to cultivate real relationships. That is going to require giving ourselves away to others—taking real risks with our heats and our time. All that said, there are certainly all kinds of God-ordained opportunities to minister to people and we will be able recognize these moments and selflessly care for others when we are “walking in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25).

daniel the smith said...

I agree with your point, but... is this really a valid comparison? How many of those things in your first list would have been done at all in the first century by anyone?

M. Pease said...

Good post!

Daniel, with the exception of the postcard, I suspect that the civil service, military and many large merchants (in trade, not girth) of Jesus' day would spend at least some time at the listed activities. They may not have put as much emphasis on or formalized them so much, but it was still necessary if there was an organization involved.

And for me that's the point! Soon after they are created, organizations begin to alter their purpose from their original mandate, in the direction of self perpetuation. They suck up an ever increasing portion of available resources to ensure the survival of the organization. Self preservation eventually becomes Job One. In the case of the modern Church, funds that should be used to serve the Gospel, are used for real estate and buildings and maintenance and salaries for maintenance personnel, and even the pastor's job becomes subsumed in this task instead of caring for people.

It is the conviction of my Pastor, that when Paul wrote Ephesians 6:12, he was thinking of worldly institutions as much as he was of demons and spirits.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)