Jan 12 2022.
I do not like limitations being placed on my efforts. I’m sure you don’t either. And yet there are times when it happens in ministry. We have all bumped up against financial limitations that have stalled our leadership visions. Beyond that, there is the ongoing challenge of getting the people around us to cooperate with a wonderful ministry idea. uggg.
#JesusStories: Early in Jesus’ ministry he decided to return to his hometown to minister to those he knew best (Mark 6). When he arrived, the townspeople gathered to hear him, and were absolutely amazed at the power of his words and miracles. But then an unexpected downturn occurred; the people started talking among themselves that this was only Joseph and Mary’s son who had been a carpenter among them for years, and they became disgusted at the authority Jesus was now exhibiting. Was it because they remembered his days of youthful behavior? Maybe. Was it because they did not want to be told to rearrange their live for the new kingdom by one of their local carpenters? Likely. Was it because they were jealous that their sons had not risen to prophet status? Perhaps. But whatever the reasons, the crowd backed away from Jesus the miracle worker. Even his own family seemed to side with the townspeople. But the most interesting thing from this ‘walk away’, was Jesus’ inability to do many miracles or healings. This was such a contrast from the other towns Jesus and the disciples had visited. Just days earlier Jesus had cast out a legion of demons from a scary violent man who lived in graveyard; he had cured a woman who had suffered from chronic bleeding for 12 years; and he had raised a little girl from the dead. Usually crowds were running toward Jesus, but now his friends and family were walking away from him and shaking their heads in derision. This was a shockingly odd experience for the disciples. Even Jesus was deeply surprised at their unwillingness to listen to him and at least let him heal their sick. But then Jesus recalled that hometown folks tend to dishonor their own prophets. Further he commented how his people “did not have any faith” (vs. 6). Wow, what a blow to have to acknowledge that your closest friends and family have ‘no faith’. And with that, Jesus turned and took his message and miracles to the nearby villages.
Dear Christian leaders, whether we like it or not, our effectiveness in advancing the gospel is deeply impacted by the church people around us. If the Messiah could have his ministry minimized by friends and family, so can we. Truth be told, I have many memories of this happening to Melodee and me over the years. When this occurs, we must take this lesson from our Lord, and turn instead to serve other people who are more ready for heaven to download upon them. I had a superintendent in California who used to say, “ride the horse that is running!” In other words, if the initiative you are pursuing isn’t advancing, get on another one that will. Jesus’ townspeople wouldn’t respond, but the neighboring villages would. The disciples were taught that if people weren’t listening to their message and miracles, to shake the dust off their sandals and go the another village. Are you hearing this? It is our heritage of Christian leadership that if your church people will not engage in your kingdom visions, go to people in your community who are ready to engage. Here is a dirty little secret – many Dinner Churches have been birthed by a pastor and a small team after their church people said, “we’re not interested.” If you have heard that, I have a question for you: “Who is interested?”
#DinnerChurchQuotes: “The church has divested itself of the connection business in order to master the principle business, the proposition business, and the being-right business. But the future belongs to the connectors.” (Leonard Sweet)
#PracticalStuff: It is a new year, and a great time to remind your team of their core dinnertime practices. One of them, which happens to be the most important job in the room, is “turning strangers into friends”. This is an assignment for EVERY person on EVERY evening. How do you feel about making this the convo for your next leaders huddle?
Blessings & Boldness,
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.