Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Expanding the Harvest

Matthew 9:37-38
"Then He [Jesus] said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into the harvest."

I grew up with a dad who is a minister of music. Now, I'm married to a young adults' pastor. I don't know what it's like to live life when your family works outside the realm of ministry. I've spent so much time in the churches were my dad and husband previously and currently serve, I'm pretty sure I could walk through the buildings blindfolded, giving detailed descriptions of what I was passing.

I've taught Sunday School, children's choir, youth Bible study and women's discipleship groups. I've been a member of church choirs, praise teams and the youth orchestra (even though, I'm pretty sure my flute playing wasn't much more than a joyful noise.) I've made phone calls to visitors, written articles for church magazines, changed diapers in the nursery, stacked chairs, decorated the atrium for holidays, washed communion dishes and counted heads on youth camp buses.

Knowing the audience of incredible Christian women that read this blog, as a general rule, I'm pretty certain most of you can identify with me. There probably aren't many roles of service at the church you haven't participated in at one point in your life.

First of all, let me say that serving God inside His house has always been and will always be an important part of my life. It is my personal conviction to never be a "benchwarmer" at my church. I always want to be active in at least one of my church's ministries. But today, as I was reading these verses, I couldn't help but think, "When Jesus talked about the harvest, he wasn't just talking about serving the church."

How do I serve God by my interactions with my family?

How do I serve God at my job?

How do I serve God in the city where I live?

How do I serve God by the treatment I give the people He puts in my life?

Whether you refer to it as the pareto principle, the 80-20 rule or the law of the vital few, we see similar statistics in the church: Twenty percent of the church does 80% of the work, in reference to serving, tithing, etc. Of course, every church is different, and we'll never really know the accuracy of this estimate. But I wonder - if you stepped down from one of your volunteer positions at your church, wouldn't that provide someone else with the opportunity to step up?

When I moved to Texas, I was concerned about the holes I was leaving at my home church. Particularly, I felt like I was abandoning our student ministry, leaving them without a female intern and short-handing our worship ministry without a praise team member and frequent soloist. I can't believe I thought so highly of myself that I doubted God would provide someone to fill my shoes.

But guess what? God did send others in my place. My home church never skipped a beat. In fact, whenever I visit and I talk to those who are serving where I previously did, I can see not only how blessed the ministries I left behind are, but I see how blessed those serving in my place have been....just as I was when I was serving there.

So if you find yourself having the "yes disease," with a plate full of service already, here's some advice I got from one of my mentors: "The next time you are approached with a new ministry to serve in, instead of dwelling on potentially saying that dreaded word 'no,' perhaps you should think of it as an opportunity for someone else to be blessed to say, 'yes.'"

Our God does incredible things. He is very much alive and active in today' world. Let's imagine that the pareto principle is true within the church. Can you imagine what more the church could do for our awesome if the workers expanded to 21%? Maybe 30%? What about 50%?

Along the same lines, if you relinquished some of your volunteer responsibilities within the church walls, would that open up other opportunities in your life to go into the harvest? Could you start a Bible study among your co-workers? Could you create a prayer group with ladies in your neighborhood? Would you just have an open evening in your schedule so you could have a family who is struggling financially over for dinner?

My prayer this morning is that I would be open to the Spirit's leading, wherever God would call me to serve - whether inside the church or outside of it. One thing I am certain: There is plenty of work to be done, and my desire is to be one of the workers and faithfully pray for God to send more.


Rita said...

Wow. That was very encouraging. My favorite thought line (the line in which you don't just read by meditate on) was "The next time you are approached with a new ministry to serve in, instead of dwelling on potentially saying that dreaded word 'no,' perhaps you should think of it as an opportunity for someone else to be blessed to say, 'yes.'"

I dont' think I ever really thought about saying no that way. Sometimes we always want to be helpful and we just say yes. Some how we think WE need to be the one to do everything when it comes to working in the church. How will will ever know what gifts and talents other people have if we always say yes. Currently I work in youth ministry inside and outside of the church. So next time I'm tempted to say yes I think back on your thought line.

Thanks so much for sharing!

Pat Cooper said...

Hmmmnnnnn. I will pray about this.

Ashley Fisher :) said...

Just found your blog and I'm loving it! Thanks for sharing your heart!