Summary: As Jeremiah risked everything to buy some apparently worthless real estate in order to give a sign that the Lord would triumph, so I also asked our church to adopt a new but venturesome vision for its life.
After Jeremiah had bought his field, God said to Jeremiah,
“I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for all time, for their own good and the good of their children after them.”
If we as God’s people will engage in deepened discipleship, so that He may give us one heart and one way, it will be for our good and for our children’s good. If you will buy into that, it will be buying the field at Anathoth. Not a Florida swamp mess. Nor a Brooklyn Bridge fiction. But a sign of confidence in the God who is not finished with us yet.
Second, I believe that the way ahead for our church lies in multiplied ministries. We have a few ministries now, but we must multiply them. There must be many more. Every person associated with this congregation ought to have the opportunity to share in at least one ministry that reaches out and touches the lives of others. We need to multiply ministries, not only for the sake of the world out there around us, but also for our own sake.
A little history may be helpful. This church gave birth to some excellent ministries .. and I assume that you know that when I say ministries, I mean service to those beyond our walls, service to those who have some identifiable need.
This church gave birth to a neighborhood-wide youth ministry at a time when chaos reigned in this city. There are young adults today who look back to the sixties and seventies and credit this church for rescuing them. We’ve kept on doing youth ministry, and to God be the glory.
This church gave birth to a tutorial program at a time when the schools seemed unable to keep up with the demands and the parents were desperate for help. Though that program was abandoned, we have brought it back as an after-school enrichment ministry. It’s vitally necessary.
This church gave birth to a ministry with the mentally challenged that has gone on for nearly thirty years. It is widely recognized and has been copied in other churches. It is a model of compassion.
But it seems as though we stopped for a while. We rested on our laurels. We took a few good things and felt satisfied. We didn’t see that the needs around us were changing. We had a serious debate about what it means to do ministry, with some arguing that that was the pastor’s job and not the congregation’s. But finally, just a couple of years ago now, we began to take off. We organized a unit of SHARE to provide low-cost food for at least a few families. We created the Visitation Volunteers to take the good news out into homes, intentionally. We’ve just developed a health care ministry. We are beginning to blossom with compassionate care for others.
Do you see that we must multiply these ministries? We must multiply them because there are all sorts of needs around us. There is a high school that needs a Christian presence. There is a community college where ministry ought to take place. There are families with heartache brought about by divorce or family tensions. There are people all around us with the distress of joblessness, the agony of drug abuse, the sorrow of bereavement. There are people around us who are desperate for a word of counsel on how to raise their children, how to manage their resources, how to build self-esteem, how to overcome destructive behavior. We ought to be there for them. And we can be there!