March 24, 2022.
Some people have embraced the idea that if something comes easy, it is proof of God’s will. And conversely, if something requires hard steps, mis-steps and re-steps, then it is evidence we are forcing our will upon God’s will. This is not a supported theology for life or leadership.
#JesusStories: Jesus commonly healed people with instant effect. But Mark 8:22ff tells of a time when even Jesus struggled to heal someone. A blind man was brought for Jesus to touch and restore his eyesight. Jesus took the man by the hand and led him away from the crowd of onlookers; he obviously did not want this mans healing to become a public spectacle. But, after Jesus touched the man could only see figures and shadows – he said that people looked like walking trees. I wonder if there was a gasp in the onlooking disciples because…’it didn’t work’? But Jesus calmly re-engaged again. This time he laid his hands directly on the man’s eyes, and when Jesus pulled his hands away the man could see clearly.
There is a huge lesson in these verses – even Jesus had to ‘work at it’ sometimes. And if Jesus had to roll up his proverbial sleeves and ‘do it again’, what does that say about our lives and ministries? There will be times when things don’t work well the first go-around, so what do we do? We act like Jesus and we do it again. To assume that set-backs and re-starts are proof that we are not in God’s will is simply wrong-put. In fact, when Jesus was teaching the disciples how to pray in Luke 11, he spent only three verses giving them the sample prayer, but then spent three-times as many verses talking about asking, seeking, knocking, never-giving-up, and relentless determination. Are you bumping up against wall in your efforts to expand the kingdom? Sounds pretty normal to me. Maybe you need to make a slight adjustment or not, but HIT THAT WALL AGAIN! Because the kingdom goes forth in the hands of leaders who understand the theology of dogged persistence.
#DinnerChurchQuotes: The strategy and tactics of the First Christians were not particularly remarkable. What was remarkable was their conviction, their passion, and their determination to act as Christ’s embassy to a rebel world. (Michael Green)
#PracticalStuff: In this post-covid-ish era, do you need to test your groups determination to retell the Jesus Stories at Jesus Tables with the expectation that heaven will open up when you do? Talk about this with your team; recommit to the power of the Jesus Stories. I recently heard from a pastor who noticed his dinner church crowd was losing interest during the preaching time. He called his team together, and they noted that their preaching had grown from 10 minutes to over 20 minutes, and they were punctuating their presentations with illustrations, multiple teaching points, and even slides. They were slipping into teaching mode and hadn’t noticed it. He said, “We had a come-to-Jesus-moment”, and we recommitted to telling a simple Jesus Story followed by how that story had affected our life. Within a weeks time their preaching vibrancy returned and the crowd became engaged again – like they were at the beginning. Good leadership. Consider talking with your team at your next meeting about recommitting to the promise of the Jesus Table, and the power of the Gospel Stories.
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 100-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.