I was talking with a friend a couple of months ago, and enjoyed the chance to catch up on his life and ministry. To be honest, however, I had an ulterior motive. You see, he serves as Worship Pastor in a church significantly larger than ours and has been there from the time that church was less than half our current size. He grew with the church into the ministry that he leads today, and I hoped to glean from him some thoughts about going through the process of rapid church growth. There was no dishonesty on my part; he knew I wanted to "pick his brain." And while I did gather some great insight about how to cast vision and lead people in service to God, the best moment of the conversation wasn't about administration or leadership at all. It was about being the church. Catch that: BEING the church... His statement was this:
"If your church disappeared tomorrow from the face of the earth, would your community even know it was gone? You see, the barometer of effective ministry isn't how well you lead the people in your church; it's how well you relate to the people outside your church."
That statement has haunted me ever since. I've mentioned it in conversations with individuals and in rehearsals with groups... I've even included it as part of a presentation I'll be making this week at our Ministry Staff Retreat. The barometer of effective ministry has as much to do with being "salt and light" as it does about relating to the people in the pews.
That thought has been the driving force for a project that our Worship Ministry has undertaken:The Shopping Cart Concert Tour. With the goal of simply being Blue Valley Baptist Church in the community of Overland Park, our Adult and Student choirs have been working to coordinate an outreach event on Saturday, May 3, 2008. We've gained permission to spend the day, as a choir, at the Sam's Club located near 135th Street and Antioch Road. Our combined groups will be singing off and on between 10:30 a.m. & 2:00 p.m. and our congregation will be there to greet passersby with a smile, a handshake, and maybe even some cotton candy or popcorn! No confrontation... no aggressive evangelism tactics... we just want people to know that Blue Valley Baptist is here and that it is a place where they can find caring people who want to be the hands and feet of Jesus in Johnson County, Kansas. Our goal isn't lofty... it's simply to get outside the walls of the church and be a part of the day-to-day workings of the community. If you're free, I'd invite you to come be a part of the fun. We're anticipating a great time.
I'll have to confess, this project has lit a fire in me. Although it's not the first time I've led such an effort, it is the first time I've approached it with such an imperative motivation. You can bank on the fact that as long as God allows me to serve Him here at Blue Valley, events which place our church in the community to share the Gospel are the events that will garner the most of our collective attention, effort and resources. In a way it's a very basic response to Jesus words:
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)
Would you join me in prayer for God to do His work as we seek to share His love with the people in our community?