Have you ever done something you felt very uncomfortable doing?
We, as a staff, spent last week at the Exponential conference in Orlando, Florida. The theme for the week was The Great Collaboration. And the whole conference centred around this idea that we are better together.
Well, during one of our evenings we decided to do the most American thing possible, so we went to the local shooting range. We picked out a handgun, got instructions, and I mean like a crazy crash course on weapon safety instructions, and then were given a box with our handgun, ammunition, safety goggles, and headphones. When we got to the range I was shocked to find that there was NOBODY supervising the range in person. There were cameras everywhere, but all the employees were up at the front. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I guess I thought there’d be someone hanging around, like a lifeguard at the pool. We had been given 30-45 seconds of gun safety instruction, then given a gun with live ammo and sent on our way. I felt really uncomfortable.
Thankfully we were travelling with someone who knew something about guns, and safety. Because after hearing, and honestly, feeling, the first round being fired. I was ready to turn around and leave. It’s not something I was prepared for. The fact that you feel the gun being fired, even when you’re not the one holding it, just didn’t feel right. But, the longer we were there the more I adjusted, and then it was my turn to take a shot. I think the only reason I was able to do this activity is because I was there with someone who knew what they were doing. They coached me through all the steps of loading the magazine, keeping my finger off the trigger until I was ready to fire, and all the ins and outs of what we were doing. Without them, I’d have been scared off.
Why am I talking about this?
Well, there’s a ministry principle that I took from this experience that I want to encourage you with.
Just because you’re uncomfortable, doesn’t mean you can’t do it.
I think we say this to ourselves too often. I know I do. “Oh, I don’t know how to do that, so I won’t”, or “Oh, I don’t feel comfortable with that, I’ll leave it to someone else”.
How comfortable do you think Peter felt when he stepped off the boat to walk out onto the water? He’d never done that before, he’d never seen anyone do it before Jesus, yet he takes a literal step in faith and asks Jesus to call him out onto the water. Peter’s not dumb, we know the disciples had a fearful respect of the seas. But he looks to someone else doing it, and he says “guide me, and I’ll do it too”.
I’m willing to bet there’s something you’re not doing because you’re uncomfortable with it. What is it? Who could you get to come along side you and show you how it’s done so it’s not so scary, not so frightening, not so uncomfortable? What step in faith could you take to serve in a way that seemed too big to handle before?
I want to live a little more like Peter. Sure, Peter had Jesus as his guide. But, we’re also not trying to walk on water. We’re talking about serving in Children’s Ministry, Facilities, Calvary Connects, Seniors Lunch, Ushers, Student Ministries. Who can we ask to teach us about these ministries so we can have a healthy understanding that we CAN do it?
When we work together with other people we will do things we otherwise thought we couldn’t. Because it’s true, we are better together.
Mike Sanders, Director of Youth Ministries
What If We Stop Doing Evangelism?
The question is a sobering one to think about. Often when we hear the word “evangelism”, fear takes over and we get nervous that someone might ask us to do something that we feel we can’t.
Church, your faces tell the story on Sunday morning when we talk about sharing the Gospel with our friends and family! There is a visible reaction when I mention the words “evangelism” and “sharing the gospel”. The reaction is a mixture of fear and disconnect. It may not be intentional but it happens. Fear and discomfort set in and we don’t know what to do about it.
We recently read an article at our staff meeting that posed the question, “What will happen if the church continues to ignore evangelism?” Using the warning given to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2, the author warned that if the church does not repent for its lack of evangelism and return to the things that the church should do, then we were in danger of losing our effectiveness and possibly even our existence as a church.
As I read the article, things got quiet in the room. All eyes were hanging pretty low because I know that they felt, as I do, that evangelism is tough and at times it’s not the priority it should be. As I continued to read, Jesus’s words from Matthew 5:13-15 were explained. Listen to these words from Scripture:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?
It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp
and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house."
Even if our evangelistic pulse is faint, God’s Word is clear about our response - We are called to be salt. We are called to be light. And if we don’t, then God’s Word says that we will be ineffective and “no longer good for anything but to be thrown under people’s feet”
Pretty powerful words, right?
God does not want us to be ineffective – that is not what He wants for you and I. Rather, He wants us to repent (if we have reason to repent) and make sharing the Gospel with our friends, co-workers, and family a priority.
As I finished reading the article, I immediately went into a chapter in “How to Grow” where author Darryl Dash gives an introductory understanding of what the Gospel is. As the words leapt off the page, Darryl pointed us to God’s holiness, God’s love, God’s grace, God’s mercy, and God’s mission. It was refreshing because it reminded us together of just how good that Good News is. We ended with a time of reflective prayer, thanking God for the Gospel and the privilege we have of sharing it.
Don’t worry Church, I’m still working this out in my own life but my desire is to grow in missional effectiveness while God gives me time. Who’s with me, by God’s grace?
You are dearly loved,
Note: Evangelism is a muscle and every muscle needs exercise. Join us for March’s EQUIP as we dive into evangelism and get some tools to help us share this amazing news we have been given. EQUIP is on Monday March 9th.
Have you ever heard the song Magic Power by the Canadian band Triumph? It's a great song, I'd recommend it. In this song, we hear this message about the magic power of music. About how it has this ability to change our mood, pick us up at the end of a long day. The second verse says:
She's had a rotten day, but she hopes the DJ is gonna play her favourite song. It makes her feel much better, brings her closer to her dreams. A little magic power makes it better than it seems.
Now, perhaps this song is elevating the power of music to heights that make music a small-g “god”. But it's also speaking a lot of truth about the power that music can have in our lives.
These last few weeks at Student Ministries we've been looking at the students' favourite songs. We've been taking a hard look at the lyrics, and asking the question: when we sing these songs, what is the message we're projecting to others? When I sing these lyrics, what am I saying about who I am, about who God is, and about the world we live in? Then once we've answered those three questions, we take a step back and look at the truth, and so far, the truth has presented a very contrasting worldview than that of these songs.
It's a practice that I am hoping to ingrain in the minds of our students, but I think it's a skill we could all use, because music is catchy, and it drives us. We could be out for a walk, and someone is cranking a tune from their garage or their car, or we see it in a movie or tv show. Then it's stuck in our brains, and we start to hum it or sing it to ourselves, then, we're the ones cranking it from our garage, or our cars as we drive. And on the surface, it seems harmless, you're just enjoying a song. There's a lot of really catchy songs out there that are just a blast to listen to. Songs that make us feel good, pick us up after a long day at work, or that are singing about something you're going through. But, a lot of our favourite songs, are painting a picture about who we are as individuals that is self-centered, or about a god that is so careless or powerless, or about our world that has no hope, and we really ought to be more careful before we put songs like that on repeat. Sure it's got a great beat, but these themes and ideas can trickle into our worldview if we aren't paying attention.
Now, maybe you're sitting there reading this and thinking “Geez Mike, way to be a bummer...”
Please understand that music is one of my favourite things that God has gifted us with. I have whole mix CD's that are filled with songs that are fun to drive to. There are songs that when they come on the radio I smile because I just love that song. I got a playlist on my phone that is just classic 70's and 80's rock songs that remind me of childhood, and my dad playing rock radio stations on long drives. There are songs that I get to the end of my workday and they're like a little reward on the drive home. Music is incredible, and I thank God every day that he's given us this beautiful gift of rhythm and beat. All I want to make sure we're doing, as a church, and as Christians, is to be wise about what we're consuming, and the subsequently sharing with others. Recognize that a lot of the secular music we enjoy, has this false idea about humanity, about this world, and about the God that we serve. And go into this music knowing the truth about those three things. Because, I'd argue that music does have power, and I urge us to be using that power to glorify God.
Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:16-17)
Mike Sanders, Director of Youth
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