What is God saying?
This must be the start of any ministry in the church. If ever we start a ministry because ‘we ought to’ rather than because we sense God’s leading it will rapidly become a dead work; those running it will burn out and the fruit will be negligible.
So how do we know what God is saying? Clearly we may hear in the context of prayer, prophecy or some other way in which God speaks directly to us. However, I find a common starting point is often with one or more members of the church themselves have a sense God is calling them into a particular area of ministry. This may be expressed by a passion – what they talk about that makes their eyes ‘light up’! – which comes from their heart, and gifting that is appropriate for the ministry. (In Exodus 35:21ff we find that many things ‘moved’ or ‘stirred’ the people’s hearts and spirits as they became involved in the building of the tabernacle, examples of ‘passion’ in operation.) But this will often focus on the immediate, the needy people they see around them who clearly need help.
If our commission is to advance the kingdom of God (and it is!) it is helpful to put this sense of leading into the context of a larger picture i.e. not that we focus only on a few individuals, important as they are in God’s sight, but on what they may represent in the context of our community and beyond.
Reflecting on the experience of CCK which I shared last time the initial work among ‘street homeless’ people in Brighton began with the weekly provision of food to a few people. However, as we progressed we began to see the wider picture of the street scene in Brighton and the surrounding area and were able to put together a more diverse programme with different aspects of a weekly meal for some, a residential setting with training in life skills towards independence for others, and now a rural apprenticeship scheme to impart work disciplines is being a launched for yet more people. This has consistently been built around those with a passion and sense of calling into the ministry.
With hindsight (a wonderful gift!) we could have planned this more effectively than only moving step by step, not that I despise the Lord’s leading in a step by step fashion. But had we worked first on a Problem Tree we could have been more prepared and equipped for when the Lord opened up the various opportunities.
Next time we will examine how to develop a Problem Tree which will lead us towards an Objective Tree. This will begin to reveal what we have to tackle to bring about long term improvements.