Just out of high school I worked as a pitchman. My job was to speak about products in a compelling way as to make the audience want to purchase what I was presenting. I would set up at flea markets and festivals attempting to draw the largest crowds I possibly could. The larger the crowd, the more I sold. The lessons I learned from this job have been invaluable to me in ministry.
One such lesson that I am often reminded of is that the immediate audience is not always the primary audience. The hardest part of developing a crowd is getting the permission to begin a presentation. Permission was granted when I could get one interested party to stop and listen to my presentation. What I found most interesting is that the person who purchased my product was usually not the one who gave me permission to present. Instead, my sales generally came from the onlooker, the person who joined the presentation late and listened from a distance. My immediate audience, the one who gave me permission to begin, rarely became my customer. My customer was the secondary audience.
The same is true in ministry. In youth ministry we have our primary audience: our students, parents, and families that are part of the church. We can have a positive impact on them for Jesus. My experience though is that when our primary audience gives us permission, and we seek to do our presentation well, then a door is opened to the curious onlookers. These onlookers are many times the ones that we get the opportunity to share the gospel with for the very first time. These onlookers or secondary audience can quickly become our “customers” as we share the good news of the resurrection.
A friend once shared with me that he was praying with a church member who was in the hospital. The nurse came into the room and asked to speak with my friend. He was worried because he often prays loudly and was certain that she was going to tell him to keep it down. Instead, the nurse said that her other three patients heard his prayer from their rooms. They all wanted to know if he would also come pray with them.
Friends, may we not shy away from our calling. May we seek to do well in our presentations, whatever they may be, so that we are presented with more opportunities to speak to this secondary audience. After all, the second audience is ripe for the harvest!
What do you want to eat for dinner tonight? I do not know. What do you want?
Have you ever had that conversation before? My family and I have that conversation often. I think all of us have our own ways of making decisions. Regardless of these various methods, making a decision is still a challenge.
Recently I completed a master’s degree. Since this completion I have received many questions. What is next? Will you be leaving us? First let me say that the completion of this degree does not indicate any major life changes forthcoming. It does bring to mind the question that I have been wrestling with for months. Do I step forward into a doctoral program?
I have seen a recurring theme throughout my life. When I am uncertain about a decision, I continually wrestle with the question. There was a time that I was not sure if I needed to complete an undergraduate degree. I kept wrestling with the question until I finally decided, yes I need a bachelor’s degree. There was a long period of time that I wrestled with the idea of ordination. I have since decided, because it just wouldn’t go away, that I needed to complete the ordination process. The same was true with my master’s degree. I had some time to put it off, but it kept nagging at my heart and mind. I may have also had a little push from my wife, thanks Ashley!
A doctoral degree is not likely to increase my pay. It may or may not give me extra opportunities to reach out into the community and to fellow ministers. I can find no tangible reason, other than becoming a better leader, to move into a doctoral program. On the surface the answer is no. I should not move further in education. Despite the lack of tangible, there is a nagging sense that maybe I should continue. It will not leave my thoughts. Maybe this is how I am supposed to make decisions.
At this time I do not have an answer. It may be that the constant reminder of further education is an answer. It may be that I see the opportunity as a blessing, that if not taken, is squandered. Regardless, I wonder how you make decisions? Could the constant barrage of reminders about a decision be the work of the Holy Spirit in your life?
As I was preparing to leave my house today, across the
television was the image of police searching for criminals. The police were
searching for two individuals who had killed a police officer. Maybe you have
seen the report I’m talking about or maybe you have seen similar reports.
Unfortunately, such images are all too common in our day. Within these images I
couldn’t help but feel pain. I couldn’t help but feel the pain of our broken
nation. Usually I am a global citizen. By that, I mean I feel it is just as
important to pray for other countries as well as our own. Yet, today I am very
much broken hearted for our own country. We like to believe that we live in a
country that is accepting and tolerant of all people. The reality is, we simply
do not. We are a broken nation.
We shutter at images of police brutality or brutality towards police. The argument in
Kentucky, about whether a clerk should be forced to issue a marriage license to
a gay couple, indicates that we struggle over whether honoring another
individual’s rights surpasses that of our own rights. We are discovering
atrocities committed by Planned Parenthood and feeling shame that we live in a
society where bartering for pieces of a baby’s body is even possible. We are a
I don’t often call for this, but let us pray for our nation. We are in need of the
power of God to fill our nation. We are in need of a reminder that all of us
have the potential to do evil. When God reminds us of that fact, we remember
our humanity and God’s divinity. We remember that at the core of our being is
an utter dependence upon the one who is, was and always will be. Let’s pray for
less divisiveness or more unity. Let’s pray for an attitude of humility and
love. Let’s pray that our broken nation may be healed and that we may soon see
a society that looks less atrocious and more like God’s Kingdom. We are a
broken nation. My heart today is broken. May the Lord mend our brokenness.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
It’s hot where I am. No, I mean unbearably hot. The moment you walk out the door, a wall of heat overwhelms you. Some days the afternoon showers bring refreshment and relief from the heat and humidity.
The reality for you and I is this: we are constantly being showered with God’s grace. Whether we want to accept God’s love or not is inconsequential. The very life you have, is an act of grace. The breathe you breath is because God first breathed life into you.
Are you currently facing heat? Heat and humidity so strong that you’re not sure you can last much longer? The day is long and hot- you’re desperate for the relief of afternoon showers.
You my friend, need only look up. Open your eyes. See the rain of God’s grace that is already pouring down upon you. Open your palms, let your heart be willing and see the life, the opportunity, the movements, the time you have been given. God’s love is pouring down upon you in your hot day…now, will you reach out your hands and receive the rain or will you hide and pretend it isn’t there?
Participating in God’s Kingdom gives us fresh eyes to love and appreciate the rain. To splash around in the pools of God’s love that he leaves everywhere around us. Today, my friend, participate in the Kingdom and don’t be afraid to allow yourself the freedom of getting drenched in the rain of God’s love that surrounds you.
Bonhoeffer once wrote, “The church is the church only when it exists for others.”
What is the church?
Better yet, who is the church?
We are the church and yet we ask ourselves, what is my purpose in life?
Jesus existed only for others. Let’s not be obligated to “religiousness” or “tradition.” Instead, let us be the church, existing only for others. That is what it means to be the holy church, filled with holy participants in God’s Kingdom.