Last month I highlighted the importance of vision casting for any given community. If that were ministry in a nutshell, we would focus on vision casting alone, get the word out there, and hope that everything falls into place, right? Well, actually, not so fast! Vision for mission and ministry in the Christian church is uniquely and necessarily caught up in the incarnation, "God with us." God chose to touch the ground through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. We too, are called to engage in life-giving relationships with those around us. It is the embodiment of vision that makes it stick.
Sometimes, I fear that today’s leadership training gives us the impression that we are lone rangers, self-sufficient and autonomous in every way. If we would simply read and digest the latest data points (of which there is plenty), and then delve into meaningful action, we would fulfill our purpose as leaders. The writer of Ephesians, however, expands our vision far beyond the agency of the “one man show.” Rather than going alone, we are all invited to get caught up in one of God’s primary activities in this world, which is:
…to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:12-16)
As the old African proverb proclaims, “… to go fast, go alone, to go far journey together.” Leading through a framework of engaging others puts our ministry and program planning in a different light. Rather than thinking about how “I” will do it, I’m thrust into an awareness and sensibility that considers my neighbor and their unique gifts (known and unknown) that might be employed for the greater good.
So, how are you invited others into ministry moments? Is there a process in your community, a plan for engagement? When do you know that others are engaged in the vision and mission of your community? With these questions, you are well on your way to discovering the riches of a community vested with assets under their feet. Prompting others to to serve, to coordinate, to offer testimony, to preach, to visit shut-ins and nursing homes: these are the marks of a leader who is poised for engaging others in God’s mission in this world. I encourage you to think about engaging others this month, and to invite others to do the same.
Soli Deo Gloria!