In recent months, I have become aware of people in our congregation who have significant ministries in the community:
· the lawyer who volunteers with the domestic violence center;
· the former heart patient who spends time each week visiting heart patients and sharing insights about how to live with their disease;
· the busy mother who tutors at-risk children;
· the business person who finds himself the “chaplain” in his workplace.
In Missional Renaissance, Reggie McNeal notes: “People don’t go to church; they are the church. They don’t bring people to church; they bring the church to people.” Wherever a believer is, there the church is present.
Ministry takes place in many contexts—community service, the workplace, the home, the coffee shop. The challenge for the church is to give members the permission to seek out and pursue their ministries in the world. We value what people do within the walls of the church through recognition, training, and encouragement, but we fail to do that for those who are doing Kingdom work outside the walls. The traditional church needs to find ways to bless and equip the daily ministries of our members.
The People Development Team in our church believes that God is always at work in the world and invites us to join in that activity. We want to help church members become what God has called them to be (self-awareness) and develop strategies to live that out (through skill development and personal growth development). Our theme verse is “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10b, NASB)
One of the ways that we can learn more about how our church members are living out their witness each day and how we can help them in those efforts is the “Real Talk” session. We picked up the core of this idea from McNeal’s book. During this 45-60 minute session, a member of our team meets with a group in our church (such as a Sunday school class) and asks members to respond to these questions:
· What do you enjoy doing?
· Where do you see God at work in your everyday life?
· What would you like to see God do in your life over the next six to twelve months? How can the church help?
· How might God be working through you to serve others? How can the church help? How can we pray for you?
Participants will be asked to respond in writing and to discuss their responses in a small group setting. Our ultimate goal is to develop people rather than programs, so we start where the people are rather than assuming we know what is best for them.
We think it is an exciting idea and look forward to what we will learn from those in our fellowship.