It seems there are a number of ministries going through difficult times. I’m not convinced that there are any more numerically now than any other time, although the economics of the day seem to be a reasonable scapegoat. Don’t forget the ever popular allegations of sheep stealing or the generalized assertion of a wicked generation. The underlying truth is that once in a while, you face the fact that fewer people are coming, or giving, or listening to you.
Take heart. It’s happened to people smarter and more anointed than you or I are. Sometimes, far more anointed.
In John 3, the disciples of John the Baptist are facing a cruel reality in their junior executive team meeting. In spite of John’s best preaching and bug eating antics, the crowds are not what they were the year or month or week or day before. All the charts end with the arrow pointing down. This is not good. They’ve done the market research and discovered that the issue is not that fewer people are seeking baptism, but rather that there’s another baptism and taco stand in town, located conveniently nearby.
The disciples do what junior executives do best – complain to their superior.
“Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordon River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.” (John 3:26)
I have a feeling that John had mixed emotions when he heard this. He certainly wasn’t thrown off by the popularity of Jesus – after all, he’d heartily endorsed him. He actually celebrated the divine plan playing out as he knew it would. I think he had different feelings about his disciples though…the realization that they’d confused the activity of ministry with the purpose of ministry.
John’s disciples were into baptizing. John was into baptism. John’s disciples wanted people filing through the line, propagating an idea of activity.
If your present activity in ministry is going the way of the square wheel for the time being – doors are being shut, people aren’t responding to your methods, or you find yourself trying to baptize across the river from the Messiah Himself…and you’re losing people, money and influence…ask yourself: What is my ministry about? Is the Kingdom being expanded in people’s lives? Is it happening in my city in any fashion – under my influence or not?
Isn’t that what you got into this for to begin with?
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