Sunday, December 18, 2005

Reaching the Cities

If God were to tell you it is His will for your life to move to a large city to spread the Gospel, what would your response be? Some people might respond by saying: Lord, there is so much concrete, and the people, they are so rude. Lord, what about trees and grass, You know how much I love being outdoors. I sure would hate to leave the wide open fields and the forests where I go hunting every year. And Lord, that small church in small town, Alabama sure does need a pastor. Lord, I just couldn't go to a city.

While I do not doubt that the church in small town, Alabama needs a good pastor, I do question whether many people are ignoring God's call to go to the cities. During the past one hundred years a great shift has happened in American society and in many other parts of the world. People have become decreasingly agrarian and more industrialized. They have moved from the country to the cities, so much so that now the vast majority of Americans live in the cities. There remains a need for strong churches in the small towns of America, but there is a far greater need for churches in the cities of this nation.

My heart has been increasingly burdened for these cities lately. There does not seem to be any good reason to go anywhere other than the cities. (other than God's perfect will of course) My prayer is that millions of Christians would flood to the great cities to spread the Gospel, not with an attitude of condemnation, but with love and compassion desiring to see lost people changed from the inside out and molded into the image of Christ.

So where will you go? Will it be Miami, the gateway city to latin america and home to many who have relocated from the northeast? Will it be New York, one of the great multicultural cities of the world, with the kind of diversity to be able to send missionaries back to every country in the world. Will it be Montreal, the french capital of North America. How about Las Vegas, sin city itself? More importantly though, will you follow God whereever His perfect plan for your life calls you to go?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Does God Waste Time or Resources?

I found the blog posting by Dr. Wayne McDill titled "Does God Waste Time or Resources" quite thought provoking. The posting can be found at his website under the weblog page. As one who fits into the category of person he is speaking of, I would like to respond to several questions he poses. First, I will explain some of my background.

I became a believer during my first year in college. My major in undergraduate school was Information Systems. I spent several years working as a computer technician and a network administrator. Three years ago, my wife and I, through our study of scripture and prayer, believed that it was God's plan for us to leave our jobs and move to seminary. After moving, I have worked in management for UPS and am currently working in the computer field again as an operations manager.

Now, on to the issues addressed in Dr. McDill's blog.

The answer to the question of whether my college education was a waste of time and resources should be quite clear at this point. It was definitely not a waste. I have continued to use that training and even develop it further through my employment since God moved me to seminary.

I think a more basic question is "When does a believer enter into full-time ministry?" Although I did not think about this question much as a new believer, it has been one of interest to me lately. From my study of Scripture, I have found that every believer is called to minister full-time beginning at the point that they receive salvation.(Ephesians 4:1-16) Does this mean that every believer is to leave their job, move to seminary, and become a pastor. Certainly not. This passage makes it clear that being a pastor is one of the gifts that God gives to some believers. Pastoring is not a higher calling or a more full-time calling. It is a gift from God that has an equipping role within the body of Christ. The distinction that Paul makes here is not one of full-time or part-time or no time at all, but of function within the body of Christ. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers all have equipping functions in the Body. However, every believer is called to "the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ."

All this being said, I was a full-time minister from the point that I became a believer.

Why, then, did God send my family to seminary? I am convinced that it is for me to intensely study the scriptures in a way that was not happening in the church that I came from. While I am thankful for the education I am receiving at seminary, it would not have been necessary for me to attend seminary if the church were discipling and maturing believers the way that the Scripture commands it to do. (There are many reasons why the discipleship is not happening that I will not discuss in this posting.)

I enjoy ministering the in business world. I have had many opportunities to interact with unbelievers about my faith that would not have been possible if I spent all my time working in the building where the church meets.

In regards to church planting, there is a great need for people with professional skills working in the business world. It is a great place to build relationships with unbelievers and to disciple believers. When a believer spends eight hours a day with lost people, the influence of Christ on their life should become apparent to the unbeliever.

It is my opinion that we must reject the idea of some people being the "professional" clergy and every other believer being the laity. First, I have not been able to find this distinction in Scripture. Second, I see this professionalism as an impediment to the reproduction of new churches, since professional clergy must be paid as any other professional in their field. This puts a large burden on a new congregation to pay pastors that can easily go get jobs and interact with lost people while they work.

So, be comforted, my fellow believers who have spent years of your lives studying for and working in areas other than theology. Your efforts are not wasted and your Father desires to greatly use you to influence those you work with for the glory and honor of Christ.