Go First! (part four)
Leadership Courage Series # 32
In the home stretch of this Series, we’re considering the ninth characteristic of those who would lead well in a culture overrun with cowardice. Early in this series we examined why comfort-craving, security-seeking, spiritless stagnation is common to the Church. Sad, when you consider how we behaved in the Book of Acts.
Christ gave the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip the saints for the work of their ministry. [Eph 4:11-16] Strange, though, for several generations there’s been almost no evidence of the first three of these essential graces in the North American Church. One quality of “going first” is to restore these missing graces in every church.
What’s the impact on the Church is when the evangelistic impetus is in scant supply?
Because of the preponderance of the teaching grace, you get a dysfunctional over-emphasis on teaching as the means of evangelism.
See, when you keep trying to teach those who are not postured to learn you create an experience in those you’re with. That experience is irritation, annoyance, condescension, and frustration.
And, this we do in the name of Jesus.
The second thing you get is a dearth of actual “evangels”.
An angel is a messenger.
An “ev-angel” is a messenger of good.
And a message is “good” when those who receive it define it that way.
Think about it. What was the angels’ message at the first advent? “Turn or burn”? “Close this clinic”? “Vote for my candidate”?
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today … a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah…Glory to God … and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” [Lk 2:11-14] However that message might be interpreted today, it meant something really good to the Hebrew people enslaved by Roman oppression in that hour.
Our society thinks it has heard our “evangel” and they’ve judged it as anything but “good news”.
They think they’ve heard enough from us. They’ve decided we are rigid, judgmental, hypocritical bigots who oppose many of the darlings of what is considered to be progressive, enlightened culture. And, since we’ve reduced Christian ministry to explanation and oration, we keep trying to teach them the right way to think, believe, and act.
Did Jesus do it this way?
Consider the Campaign of Nain, recorded in Luke 7:11-17. Jesus approaches the town, sees a funeral procession, a widow weeping over the death of her child, and a lot of people in despair.
What does he do?
As he sizes up the situation, his heart goes out to her. He walks up, touches the casket, raises the boy to life, and hands him to his mother.
No commercial about Sunday’s meetings on Solomon’s Colonnade.
He doesn’t tell them to do anything.
Jesus brings the Kingdom and people are blessed. Here, he is a messenger of good.
And they all get it.
Their conclusion: “God has come to help his people.”
Is that what they conclude when you and I come to town?