Change is necessary, but we need to proceed carefully!

February 1, 2015 • Filed under:

There is fresh talk about how we are to be telling people about Jesus.

A few weeks ago I had my feelings hurt inadvertently by a Christian speaker. (See note at end of post) I know the offense was inadvertent because this lady wouldn’t hurt a flea, loves people with immense intensity and loves Jesus even more so. She is famous, and I have been listening to her for years. Every sentence contains rock-solid theology and is so truthful you wonder how she has the guts to say it…and so effectively.

She was talking about the use of booklets to tell people about Jesus and mentioned the use of booklets in some situations where people on streets are approached without notice.

She named a specific booklet.

More than once.

My heart was pierced.

It was my booklet, the one through which I learned about Jesus And I then used the same booklet to share Jesus within my relationships in middle school, high school and college.

I certainly got her point, and her point is one that I agree with. I think how the church goes about telling people about Jesus may indeed be changing. This generation is more unchurched than the last one and this generation has suffered more divorce (now making the traditional family the minority). We can’t approach people as much as we used to and assume any knowledge or interest in the God of Jesus Christ. It seems reasonable to believe that people today have more layers to work through in order to see their need for God, believe there is a God who sent Jesus, and to trust the Bible.

I really believe telling people about Jesus over an extended period of time within relationships may become the new normal for the church.

Potential Problem: God still may want to reach someone through a booklet.

But we cannot change our course while speaking negative words about anyone who is walking with Jesus, who in their heart has “set apart Christ as Lord” and speaks with “gentleness and respect” about the “reason for the hope” that he or she has (1 Peter 3:15). If God tells such a person to read a booklet to someone in order to explain how to know Jesus, then any negative words about that plan are really directed toward God. I, for one, am not interested in uttering a critical word about God’s plans.

In addition, we can’t criticize the methodology God led a godly man to use for a world-wide organization through which millions have come to hear about Christ or come to know Him. We simply can’t. We are treading on dangerous ground when we talk about some of God’s plans being more superior than others. All of God’s plans are magnificent.

Unless sin can be identified (and even then we speak carefully), set people free.

Change is necessary, but we need to proceed carefully!

There is fresh talk about leadership. 

My social media is heavy-laden with material about leadership these days. Perhaps it’s just the people I have chosen to follow, but it seems everyone is urged to pursue leadership as an assured God-ordained pursuit. At least that is how it seems to me in 140 character sound bytes.

Potential problem #1: Jesus doesn’t ask us to lead, but to follow Him.

“Whoever serves me must follow me…” (John 12:26 and many other verses)

He leads, and He is the only one who does.

Now I am absolutely certain that if I spoke with any Christian leader, they would assure me that what they mean by leadership is that people follow Jesus first and then lead as a result. However, in a society starving to be on top, striving for a microphone, desiring fame…the follow Jesus part is going to be completely lost unless we say that part EVERY time. There are too many people seeking leadership that are not ready yet.

Potential problem #2: Leaders need followers.

Once a leader gets a vision from God they need others to fall in line with the same vision and join in. Logically speaking, there will always need to be more followers than leaders. In my place of employment, there are many more followers than leaders or we could not be able to function. Leaders need people to do some major work.

Though each of us is called to lead others to righteousness (Daniel 12:3) with our lives–functionally speaking–our lives will mostly revolve around being a good follower of Christ and others in position of leadership (Hebrew 13:7).

Potential problem #3: God calls everyone to obedience, not leadership.

I have a friend who nursed her daughter with MS for decades in her home. It was God’s will for her to never lead, but to instead serve and nurse her daughter. (She did it beautifully.) I know nurses who show up for work every day on a hospital floor, receive orders from a head nurse based on patient needs that day and then follow through on them with precision. Obedience to God might lead each of these women into a leadership role like a home bible study, or an innovative idea that would improve hospital function or improve spiritual care of patients. Yes…but maybe not. Such a leading can’t be assumed, at least I don’t think so at this time.

Moses became a leader, but God called him to it (Exodus 3).

After Moses died, God called Joshua, the son of Moses’ aide.

Joshua became a leader, but God called him to it (Joshua 1:1-9).

In third world countries, millions of women today are trusting God to eat and protect them from all evil. In so doing their faith is being found more valuable than gold (1 Peter 1:6,7).

I wonder if leadership talk is a first world phenomenon. I am reminded of an evening where I listened to women talk almost exclusively about where to buy organic food and swapping information about their specific individual diets (gluten free, vegetarian, etc.). I sat there imagining the rest of the world just being thankful for the food they received that day, powerless to control their diet. I was overcome with the reality that I was watching a first world phenomenon, the ability to control my diet because I am wealthy enough to do so within a society wealthy enough to accommodate my wishes.

I wonder.

I have no desire for any of my children to grow up to be leaders. Never have. I want them only to be followers of Christ. In so doing, I expect He will lead each of them into areas of leadership but that has never been the focus of our conversation or the starting point.

I was sick all week. Perhaps this is delirium. But these two things simmered in my spirit all week.

Change is necessary, but we need to proceed carefully!

In the meantime, I pray to live my faith transparently (booklet or no booklet) and follow Jesus wherever He leads (even if I never lead).

Join me?

(Note written 2/6/2015) I was challenged by a friend to let the Christian speaker know how she offended me and perhaps shed a negative light on a global organization that God has used in mighty ways. I have drafted and sent the speaker a letter. I was unable to call or speak with her because she is too well-known for me to reach her personally. I am grateful for my friend for urging me to maintain impeccable integrity in my communication.

© 2015 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.

1 Comment

  • Margee Curran says:

    SO WELL SAID!! Thankyou for your thoughts on leadership/following and what you had to say about God and evangelism. btw- God is still using “booklets” on the college campus to bring people to the realization of their need for a Savior.

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