Mar 6:35-37 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?”

When Jesus found his plan to debrief the disciples had been hindered how did he respond? Because he was clear about his calling and knew his job description, as defined in the Kingdom manifesto of Is 61, he went ashore and began to teach the crowd. He also saw this as a further training opportunity.

As we shall see in due course, it seems likely that he returned to complete the debrief with the disciples after the crowd eventually dispersed. However, the added lessons they were to learn that day would only enrich such a review of their ministry trip.

Jesus taught at length, through the heat of the day. There were ‘many things’ he had to impart. According to Lk 9:11 these were ‘about the Kingdom’. The people gave him their full attention. Wouldn’t you have like to have been there!

The disciples meanwhile were becoming concerned. It was obvious there were several thousands of people and many must have walked long distances from their homes. They were in need of food and drink, and there were certainly no supermarkets nearby. So, the disciples interrupted Jesus and suggested that he should end his sermon and send the people home so that they could find food and drink before dark.

We may be tempted to judge the disciples for lacking faith, but we know the end of the story. Surely their action was both reasonable and responsible under the circumstances? In Project Management terms they had Identified the Problem. We shall return to this on a subsequent occasion.

Towards a solution
Can you imagine their surprise when Jesus told the disciples to give food to the people themselves? In so doing he was taking the first step in what was to become a major project. He was acknowledging that there was a need and, by giving this direction to the disciples, was beginning to define the task, namely to feed more than 5000 people. (The Design phase of Project Management.)

Learning as a Team
Working together as a group has tremendous benefits in developing both camaraderie and skills. It is possible for a home group to exist happily by themselves and to enjoy one another’s friendship. They may even feel successful because of the harmony that exists. But how much more exciting when they have accomplished a task together, whether it is some form of outreach into the community – perhaps gardening or painting a lonely old person’s house – than just maintaining the status quo! I am certain the disciples were excited, if somewhat apprehensive, as they saw the task ahead of them. We shall see more about that in the next posting

Learning point: Team-activity and on-the-job-training are powerful ways of developing skills.

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