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Mission Methods 4: Don’t plaster the cracks

by on August 1, 2010

How are we going to effectively reach Canterbury for Christ? We’ve talked about the power of taking an interest, and the importance of going out. We’ve talked about prioritising the poor and marginalised, and praying for an open door for word-ministry. What else?

If we want to make a real impact in the community for Christ, then we also need to employ the power of serving, suffering, looking weak, being vulnerable, and even failing in our efforts. These are our secret weapons to take the area for Jesus.

What Jesus said about Paul’s mission applies to everyone who wants to see people transformed by the gospel: ‘I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’. Paul accomplished what he did because he suffered. And can we hope to succeed on easier terms?

What will that mean in Canterbury? At the least, it means letting people know our goals (a multi-cultural congregation) but admitting we have no experience or understanding about how to do this. Taking the stance of learners and letting others help us. It means turning up at people’s doors with absolutely no excuse for being there, and being willing to look foolish for the sake of reaching people. It means ministering, not from a position of confidence and strength, but from a position of weakness and vulnerability.

It means exposing ourselves to ridicule for being naive dreamers – having Christians laugh at us for thinking we can do this mission when we are mostly dumb Anglos. Having non-Christians think ‘Who the hell are these weirdos and how do I get rid of them?’ It means enduring predictions that the work can’t last, that it’s not realistic. It means patiently hearing advice from many ‘experts’ who want to tell us how it’s done.

It will mean investing in people in costly ways, loving them and knowing that they may not love us in return, that at times we’ll be ripped off, taken advantage of, hurt and bruised, rejected, disappointed and discouraged. This sort of mission takes its toll (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:8-12).

It means praying hard, wrestling in prayer in a way that leaves us tired and drained, unfit for other activities we would have liked to keep up.

In these ways we plan to display and embody the death of Christ, and also give God space to reveal his life-giving power through us pathetic vessels. It’s the cracks in our ministry and lives that hold the most promise: they are the windows through which the gospel treasure within us can shine out (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Of course there are some who will hear the gospel and believe it straight away. But for most, it’s not until they see us looking surprisingly weak that they will realise what power is at work in us – not our own strength but that of Christ. Not until they see us loving and persevering through disappointments and failures, will they be persuaded we are the real thing.

As Paul puts it,

‘So then, death is at work in us, but life in you.’

(2 Corinthians 4:12)

From → General

One Comment
  1. Christian permalink

    Amen! I wonder what kind of patterns in the way we fellowship and work together can remind us about this… so that when the disappointments come we’re already thinking about how God might use the cracks to better expose his treasure.

    2Cor. 4:10 We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

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