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The Guiding Principle of Service In Ministry
     Dr. Rodrick Conerly, Executive Director

Eventually every pastor will ask himself, ďWhat can I do to get more people to come to church?Ē  The question is well intended, but ultimately is answered by some or all of the following responses: (1) More attention to sermon preparation, personal visitation in homes and the hospital.  This falls prey to the idea that, ďIt must be my fault.  I must work harder.Ē  (2) Hire more staff to improve the worship presentation.  This answers the cry, ďIf I just had a little help around here.Ē (3) Greater emphasis on what the member in the pew should be doing better.  This berates the volunteer in the pew with the subtle accusation, ďIf you would do your job, things would be better.Ē  Yet, these types of responses do not focus on the primary understanding that Jesus had of His ministry.  Jesus said that He, ďcame not to be served, but to serve.Ē (Matthew 20:28).

Jesus did not spend time worrying about how He could get more people to go to the temple.  He understood that the people knew where the temple was and they knew how to get there.  Jesus spent the primary part of His ministry in service to others.  As He came to seek and to save that which lost, He likewise has sent us to seek them.  A six-step sequence to the task of the church exists.  Jesus has sent us so that we might:

  1.  DISCOVER the lost through service to their needs.
  2.  EXPOSE them to biblical principles and Christian character.
  3.  Call them to a COMMITMENT to Christ.
  4.  DISCIPLE them as they grow spiritually until they
  5.  can assume a LEADERSHIP role along side us as together
  6.  we return to the task of DISCOVERING others through service.  

Seeking God is not part of a lost personís character.  The lost seek something to fill a need.  Our task as Christians is to DISCOVER and form relation-ships with the lost.  Until a relationship exists, they will not TRUST us.  Until they TRUST, they will not LISTEN to us about Jesus Christ.  Only as they listen to us, will they be EXPOSED to biblical principles and Christian character.  Only through EXPOSURE to biblical principles and Christian character, will they make a COMMITMENT to Jesus Christ.

Too often our churches will short circuit the process and move directly to the COMMITMENT phase without allowing for the DISCOVERY and EXPOSURE phases necessary in the life of the lost person.  Let me give you an example of what can happen when DISCOVERY efforts are followed by EXPOSURE.

Following is a letter that one of our Church Planters received a few years ago.  Names have been changed to protect the individuals.

Dear Bob,

I am writing this because I have difficulty remembering all the things Iím feeling and what I want to say when faced with sharing them in person or on the phone due to fear.  This is a way for me to break the ice.

Let me tell you a little about myself and   what Iím looking for, then you tell me if you and your church can help me.

My family attended a Methodist Church when I was growing up.  The same church that I had attended for some 15 years with my family turned their  backs  on  me  when  I  became  an  unwed mother at 17 years old.  They politely asked me not to return. 

I have been remarried and divorced three times.  I worked and supported two of those husbands and raised four children virtually on my own.  I have a addictive personality.  I have been through counseling and am not in a financial position to continue it.  I have attended many twelve-step programs seeking direction to live a happier life, yet never felt like I belonged because I donít have a problem with drugs or alcohol.  When I get upset or off balance in life, I donít think about drinking alcohol, and I have never used drugs nor do care to start.

Yet, I still think of myself as out of control and feel crazy from time to time.  When I feel out of control, I look to control someone else or blame someone else for my bad feelings.

I made the decision to come to your church because itís new, because of the topic you chose for the first five weeks, and because I am looking for spiritual direction, not religious punishment.  Iím looking for tools that I can use in my everyday life to find peace within myself.  I, like many others today, have had bad experiences in the past and have lived a tough life.  I know Iím not the only one.  But, Iím tired of feeling like a victim.  There is no one that is going to take care of me except me...no one person can fulfill all my needs...yet, I donít feel strong enough sometimes to take care of me and thatís when I get myself into trouble.  Iím not getting any younger and I want what years I have left to be peaceful and happy.  I want to feel that life has meaning.  I want to learn how to make this happen.

Can you help?  Please feel free to call me any weekday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Sincerely,

The letter above shows that some lost and unchurched people respond when we seek to DISCOVER them, and EXPOSE them to biblical principles and Christian character.  Seeking of necessity means that effort has to be put forth to find that which is lost. 


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