A great ill of the current contextual state of ministry today is what seems to be an insatiable desire for recognition. More and more, churches are drawing from best practices from the business field to implement strategies that will draw the most attention to their specific vision for the expansion of their own kingdom. I’m not against that, but there’s got to be limits to borrowing from the business world when trying to carry out ministries that reflect the character of Jesus.
However, the kingdom of God has no church logo.
There is not one ministry that has the market on how to reach an entire culture that is decaying rapidly. Simply put, we need each other to accomplish the work of reaching our communities with the love and grace that is available in relationship with Jesus.
Matthew 23:5-7 speaks to leaders that love to be called by their titles in public. However, God longs to privately call his sons and daughters by name in a secret place of deep and intimate relationship. We don’t have to yell or scream for the attention of God. Additionally, all of this yelling and screaming is pushing away the very people that we claim to be trying to reach with the love of Jesus.
I hope that we learn to lower our voices and start talking to each other.
Dallas Willard gives a concise and powerful rebuke to Christians that feel the need to promote themselves under the cover of spiritual intent. He states, “One of the greatest fallacies of our faith, and actually one of greatest acts of unbelief, is the thought that our spiritual acts and virtues need to be advertised to be known.” He continues, “The frantic efforts of religious personages and groups to advertise and certify themselves is a stunning revelation of their lack of substance and faith.”
The discipline of secrecy is one of the more counterintuitive of all of the practices that result in life and health for ministers and ministries. The need to find affirmation in anyone other than the watchful and compassionate gaze of the Father will certainly end in disappointment and exhaustion. Richard Foster refers to acts of service that are directed to God instead of man in his book Celebration of Discipline. He posits that service to others allows us to say “no!” to the world’s games of promotion and authority.
Willard notes that fundraising directors across the world are able to sell the opportunity for philanthropists to make a large donation to a capital campaign when they are promised the naming rights to a particular building. However, he points out that it would be difficult to find someone that has made a generous contribution to a fund that would go toward the cost of maintaining a building.
One of the passages that has moved me so deeply recently is when Jesus instructs his followers to place themselves at the foot of the table when they are invited to dinner in someone’s home (Luke 14:10).
I have learned that elbowing my way to the front is exhausting and it leaves bruises, both on me and others around me. I’m learning to relax and trust that God has a plan for me and the church family he’s called me to shepherd.
God asks us to joyfully and passionately work toward the good of our communities. I have found that it is a lot more fun to do this when I am working with other ministries instead of competing against folks that have the same desire to see the love of Jesus expressed across our community.
Take a deep breath. Trust God. Enjoy the journey. God didn’t need Center City Church’s logo before we started in 2008, and he doesn’t need your church’s logo either.