Monday, December 2, 2013

Measuring Our Effectiveness

Measuring our Effectiveness

Wanted to take some time to have a friend of ours share a thought he shared with our STS team at Ft. Campbell a few weeks ago.  Matthew Clark is currently leading the Ft. Campbell Navigators ministry as I am coaching him as he is leading our ministry.  Matthew has done a great job of helping our ministry continue to progress in the depth and commitment level to in depth bible study.  He is also doing a great job of continuing to push the vision of discipleship that Jesus modeled for us.

Here are a few points that I asked Matthew to post on our blog to share with everyone...
Hope it stirs some good and challenging thoughts and applications as we move closer and closer toward the model that Christ left us.

 Recently I had a conversation with a fellow soldier and they were confessing to me the age old frustration. They were banging their heads against the wall in ministry but seeming to go nowhere. As we talked through the challenges of being a Christian in their unit and trying to be an example for Christ the inevitable phrase came out: “I am doing the best I can but no one in my unit seems to be interested in Christ.” As I drove the two and a half hours home that night this began to stir up a lot of thoughts in my head. I confess that I have often felt this way myself. As a young Specialist, newly arrived at Ft. Campbell, I was often frustrated that no one in my unit seemed to respond to me talking about Christ. I could easily throw my hands up and say that no one was interested. And I would wash my hands and say that I had done my best and move on.  But I have come across some verses that are worth consideration.

Matthew 9:37 – Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

John 17:20 - “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.

If God promises that the harvest is plentiful, and if He also promises that there will be those that believe through my word, then the question dramatically changes. No longer can I say that no one in my unit or sphere of influence is interested in Christ. Now I have to ask myself why am I am being effective in reaching out to them?
                Christianity is a very different culture from the World. And because of that we create a gaping chasm of a rift between the two worlds. Lots of things contribute to this gap; culture, values, purpose. In all reality we are living for very different things than the world is. And if we let it this can very easily alienate us and set the distance further and further away until we become irrelevant. Normally our approach is to invite people to church or to a bible study if they do not come then we throw our hands up and say, “Well I tried, they just weren’t interested.” But again if Jesus promises a harvest then either Christ is lying or we are using the wrong tactic. We expect those people to come out of their culture, their comfort zone, their family to take part in ours. What would persuade someone to want to cross this gaping chasm by themselves to take part in what is going on with us?
                In truth people will make this jump. But I argue that these are the people that are already desperate for Christ, people who are already relationally isolated, and people who are broken. Because these are the people that we are attracting to us it is no wonder that we spend massive amounts of energy bandaging them and taking care of them and very quickly lose an offensive and aggressive mindset. And although these people need Christ desperately I think we are losing the battle in long term influence by separating ourselves and only being attractive to the relationally isolated population.

                And first and foremost I do not think this is the model that Jesus left for us. Jesus did not remain on the fringes of society, drastically different, and expect everyone to come to Him. Jesus was attractive to them. Jesus went to them. And Jesus sent us to them.

Matthew 9:35 - And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.

Luke 10:1 - After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.

Jesus bridged this chasm leaving us an example of minimizing the distance people have to go. And He went to the world rather than expecting them to come to Him. Jesus’ example was to be close enough to the world to influence them but different and challenging enough to show them something different. But the most important thing is Jesus went to them.
Often times people are afraid to grab a beer with their fellow soldiers after work. They are afraid to go to a cook-out. Or they don’t know how to interact with the world because the divide is so far apart. But if we want to have a global impact and a lasting impact then these are fundamental skills we need to develop along with an understanding that we need to go to them, not the other way around. And it starts with me engaging one person in my unit, relating to him, and influencing him the way Jesus modeled.

God promises a harvest. So either God is a liar or we are becoming increasingly ineffective and irrelevant. Let’s look back at Jesus’ example and do what He did. Let’s go to the world instead of expecting them to come to us. And let’s influence one person and watch it grow exponentially.