Thursday, May 24, 2018

Fleeting Thought: Giving to and Investing In.

I was in a conversation with a peer in ministry today. I was describing the nature of missional efforts in ministry and I said this sentence without really thinking about it. "There is a difference between giving and investing in ministry. Missional ministry that works is more about investing in that giving to.."

As I am unpacking this reflexive statement in my head, I like it more and more. My peers understood what I meant, but I am not sure every church person will.

Giving is a good thing. God commands it. We should do it. A lot. But giving is more transactional. You have a need. I help you with that need. I am homeless and hungry. You take your turn serving at the Salvation Army. You need gas, and our deacon helps fill up your tank. I need help moving my mother to a nursing home and I don't know where to turn so I come to a church for help, and the youth group reaches out in service by helping load my mother's belongings into a storage unit. This kind of service is generous and compassionate. It is an important in expressing God's compassion and grace to the world. However, because of its easy detachment from ongoing relationship and its limited opportunity for partnership and mutuality, and its inability to be highly formational in the spiritual life of both the giver and reciever, it is not truly missional in any sense of truly being contextual, or in equpping churches for the growth and transformation as a community that they need.

The most effective missional ministries both give to and invest in people and communities. When I was a pastor in Colorado, we did a project called a Backyard Mission Project. We thought our primary impact was going to be in serving needs in the community. We started by "giving to" in a powerful way. The larger impact though, came through investing in the community for its own benefit. Six months of interviews and planning allowed us to invest time with our city council and staff, the chamber of commerce, school clubs and the fire department as well as businesses that we eager to make their community a better place and make a difference in people's lives. The church began to attract folks that wanted to be a part of a church that was eager to be active in their faith and not just talk about faith as an idea.

How that exactly will manifest itself in our ministries going forward in North Platte is still to be revealed. But now I have a little better language for the journey.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I find myself using the phrase "they don't care what you know, unless they know that you care" a lot lately. Until we invest in relationships, we will never change hearts and minds. It doesn't even matter if it's about Christ. They won't care what you know about finances, parenting, buying a house, bicycles, etc. if they don't know you genuinely care. Investing into these relationships is vital for everything... especially the church. Jesus invested in people with time, healing and conversations.

Thanks Clint!

What I am reading (for my sermonating)

I am preaching through the book of Philippians on Sunday mornings. It has been interesting because Philippians has taken on a different feel...