“The Blessing Of A Cooperative Ministry Outlook”
July 7, 2015
Raystown Lake in central PA
Click on photo for larger view with Scripture verse
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“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in Your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in My name can in the next moment say anything bad about Me, for whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:38-40).
Tom is a minister who called me from Georgia. He had read about our corporate chaplaincy model and expressed interest in developing a similar type ministry. He wanted to know if I could share our secrets but I informed him we don’t have secrets but are pleased to share what we have learned. After all, it’s a big pond out there! He came up to Lancaster County and shadowed us one day as we did our chaplain work.
I heard an interesting illustration at the chaplain training conference I attended last week. The speaker was sharing how ranchers use several methods to keep steers together out west. Some ranchers build fences to keep the livestock in. This is quite expensive and requires a lot of maintenance. Others dig a deep watering hole with sufficient water. They’ve learned that the livestock will stay near the source of water.
This analogy is helpful concerning our outlook toward ministry. As we view our service for Christ and our spiritual impact on others we can either focus on building fences or digging wells.
Some churches and Christian organizations use their resources building fences. In this outlook other churches and similar ministries are seen as competition and a threat to their existing work. Sadly, a great percentage of time, energy, and expense is expended in merely building and maintaining the fences.
Other churches and Christian organizations use their resources digging wells to provide spiritual living water. This is surely a much more Christ-honoring strategy as we dig wells and encourage the partaking of life-giving water that people desperately need in the spiritually “sun-scorched land” in which we live.
I like that attitude in life, particularly in regard to ministry. I don’t always see it though. Some churches, denominations and ministries are petty and exclusive. I once worked for a company that saw their “ministry” model as proprietary and any other similar expression posed a threat. But great churches and ministries whose major interest is the kingdom of God want to see His kingdom expanded, not restricted, or reflective only of their influence.
Today’s verse has long intrigued me. The disciples had seen a man driving out demons in Christ’s Name and told him to stop, apparently thinking they, alone, were doing the Lord’s work. The problem, they expressed, was that “he was not one of us.” That is; he was not one of the Twelve. They must have had a sense of having a proprietary use of His Name!
We wonder where this man driving out demons was from? We do know from other Scriptures that Christ had sent out the seventy and there were 120 that came together in the Upper Room. So there were others who spread the Gospel and performed miracles when Christ dwelt on this earth and ministered primarily with the twelve disciples. Where this man fit in is not specified, but apparently John and the other disciples saw his ministry as a threat. They reported this to the Lord and I think they had expected the Lord to pat them on the back and say with a smile and a nod, “Good job, boys.”
But instead Christ essentially rebuked the disciples, “Do not stop him,” and sets forth a great spiritual principle, “Whoever is not against us is for us.” Now, in all honesty, I do not fully understand all of what Christ is saying here but I do know that it is a strong rebuke against any proprietary or exclusive sense of ministry.
I want to bless the many others who are serving Christ today. There are many ways we serve and some have ministries similar to ours. May the Lord bless them! We want to encourage and assist them if possible. We want them to reach many for Christ that we will never reach. That’s how Brooksyne and I want our life and ministry to be regarded and we encourage you to have the same attitude, whatever type of ministry you have. If we are a “well-watered garden” we will draw others in and make the spiritual impact upon them that God has called us to do. Let us experience the blessing of a cooperative ministry outlook.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Heavenly Father, in this age of competition and egocentricity help us to resist the mindset of the world. We’re tempted to focus on big numbers, large budgets, expensive buildings, newest resources, impressive staff and other worldly comparisons of those who share in this calling to minister to our lost and dying world. When our focus is narrowed to imitating or competing with other ministry groups we lose sight of the One to whom we are honoring and our priorities become misaligned. We want to thank You for the scores of people and ministries that are making a tremendous spiritual impact for Your Kingdom, the vast majority of whom are unheralded and unseen. As Your followers, move us beyond pettiness, jealousy, and possessiveness to appreciate and affirm those who might have a different way of presenting the Gospel as long as it is in accordance with the Scripture. Help us to support and pray for one another as we carry forth the light of God’s Word. You have called each one of us to lift up Your name and You will draw people to Yourself. As we seek You above all else You will be our daily guide and out of our hearts will flow abundant springs of living water that will not run dry even in a drought stricken land. Amen.
We joined Jay & Lu Kopp, Kay & Mike Book for a 12 mile ride. Brooksyne and I went beyond the initial ride and enjoyed a total of over 20 miles, the last mile included a rather wet shower which cooled us down right away.
A suspension bridge in the mountains of central PA!
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