Mar 25, 2021.
Some ministry assignments are exciting and esteeming; some are not. When I’ve been directed by the Lord toward some tasks, it is amazing how quickly I have found myself wondering how it will look to my peers. We all want to be engaged in honorable and noteworthy ministry. But how do we handle the less-than-honorable assignments that Jesus needs us to do? Are we willing to pursue them despite how it will look to our ministerial cohorts?
#JesusStories: Matt 11 tells of an interaction between Jesus and Johns’ disciples. John had been in-prisoned by Herod and sent some of his men to inquire if Jesus was really the Messiah? Jesus’ reply was eye-opening: “Go tell John…the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is being preached to the poor.” Notably, this was the list of salvific activities that Jesus read from Is 61 at the synagogue when he announced his mission at the beginning of his ministry. In other words, he was doing exactly what the prophecy said the Messiah would do – healing folks and preaching to the poor. On the list of ministry tasks, healing is an impressive assignment. Most of us won’t refuse that assignment (unless we’ve been weirded-out by a TV evangelist). But preaching to the poor? That isn’t a very impressive ministry engagement. Our clergy friends might say things like, “How’s your church service for the homeless going?” Or, “How are you ever going to fund your church by reaching out to those people?” But you will get the point – ministry to the poor isn’t impressive to your friends. Now if you were building a multi-million dollar church campus, hiring a multiple staff, and drawing in thousands every week to hear you preach – now that would be impressive. But doing church for the poor? Not so much. And yet, that was exactly how Jesus VALIDATED his ministry. Let me say this plainly: any Christian leader who is preaching to the poor will make a deep impression upon Jesus Himself. And that should mean something.
#DinnerChurchQuotes: “Church Leadership in this Post-Christian Era is about disappointing your people over and over again at a rate they can absorb.” -Tod Bolsinger
#PracticalStuff: A significant percentage of the Gospels reveals Jesus being with the poor. This is supposed to be an ongoing activity of Christian leadership. So when are you going to be with the poor next? Here is a profound cornerstone of discipleship: PUT IT ON THE CALENDAR! I know, I know, that sound too simplistic. But if you never get around to calendarizing your Christ-like-ness, it remains ‘all talk‘. So, when are you going to be with the poor next? Do you have a Dinner Church? Can you find a nearby Dinner Church to attend? It is most likely that you’ll find financially-challenged people at a Jesus Table. A lot of Christian discipleship is about just showing up at the right places with the right folks.
Dr. Verlon and Melodee Fosner have led a multi-site Assemblies of God Dinner Church in Seattle, Washington since 1999 (www.CommunityDinners.com). In this decade when more churches in the U.S. are declining than thriving, and when ninety-six churches a week are closing, Verlon and Melodee sensed that a different way of doing church was needed for their 97-year old Seattle congregation. It soon became obvious that they were not the only ones in need of a different path. They joined the FX team in 2016 and founded the Dinner Church Collective. And then in 2019 founded the Dinner Church School of Leadership. There is a lot to be gained when church leaders begin to see open doors in the American landscape that they had previously overlooked. Therein lies the journey for those who will forge a new future for the American Church.