Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

More Favorite Sayings...

Ray Harrison and I met for the first time ten years ago. He is the founder, and for several decades was the executive director of International Needs, a fantastic mission organization committed to sharing Christ through nationals. He’d spoken at Bethany and I was deeply impressed with how his passion for Christ bled through all his words. One felt that he wasn’t promoting a mission work, but instead exalting Christ and calling all of us to the great adventure of living generously and joyously in His service.

We met the Monday morning after he preached at a coffee shop for our first face to face conversation. He is many years my senior and yet still seemed full of energy and as he talked about the work he led, I began to realize that the scope was much larger than I’d originally thought. There were leaders scattered across Asia, even in the unlikeliest of places, and it was the same in Africa; so many workers, so many various ministries ranging from Bible Schools, to medical work, to vocational training centers, to church planting, teen work, to government partnerships on various AIDS projects, and much more.

I asked him how he decided where to invest money. I’ll never forget his answer. He said that he just looked for leaders, and where there was a proven leader with vision, commitment, and passion, and when he found them, IN would pour their life and resources into that leader. Then he said this: “Richard if you have a million dollars, but no leader, you don’t have a ministry. But if you have a leader, you have a ministry, even if there is NO money.”

That has never left me. It’s tempting to think that more resources are the key to success in a ministry or in our personal lives, and there are people scattered across America who think that they need the next curriculum, or a coffee house, or a better speaker system, or plasma screen TV’s and X-boxes in order to reach youth. Rubbish! Start with what’s in your hand, and get on with the opportunity in front of you. This paradigm doesn’t mean that money is irrelevant. As leadership is confirmed and ministry grows, stewardship of the resources that come your way become an important aspect of leadership and ministry. But it’s vital to avoid the trap of thinking that more resources are the key to ministry. The leader is the ministry…the vision is the ministry. If we start there and keep that focus, we will have a better chance of stepping into the stream of God’s activity in our lives.


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