Preachers will always be tempted to function and minister alone. After all, preaching and pastoring are lonely pursuits for several reasons. However, if we give in to that temptation, then we will seriously undermine our potential impact in a community.
Today is the last day of this year’s full-time programme at Cor Deo. It has been such a delight to go shoulder to shoulder with eight other men who are hungry to know God more and love Him together. We have studied the Bible and theology and practical ministry and personal spirituality. We have ministered together, traveled together, laughed together, done life together. And we are all genuinely sad that this rich season is coming to a close.
So will we settle for ministry from a distance? Will we be satisfied with lone ranger ministry? No chance. These men will be looking for others with a heart for God with whom they can pursue Him in the years to come. Here are a few brief thoughts on avoiding independency as a preacher:
1. Never forget Jesus view of the crowds and the few: he was willing to lose the crowds, but he valued leaving a deeper mark on fewer people. The example of Jesus challenges our “bigger is always better” mentality. After feeding thousands and caring for the crowds, Jesus would spend time explaining to and investing in a small group of men.
2. Mentoring must not be an option for someone involved in ministry. Actually, even Jesus’ ministry to the crowds would strategically involve those few men. Don’t view mentoring as a ministry option that may or may not fit you. Ask God to point out people to whom you can give yourself and your ministry.
3. Don’t fall for worldly-wise ideas about necessary distance and avoiding friendship in leadership – The only people who find friends threatening are those precariously perched on top of a power pyramid where someone getting close becomes a threat to their position. Jesus certainly didn’t model ministry from a distance, but he had the twelve, among whom he had the three, among whom he had the one. As Andy Stanley puts it, do for one what you wish you could do for all. You can’t give yourself away evenly, so don’t make the mistake of not giving yourself away at all.
4. Pray for a Bible read through partner – could well be the best thing you’ve done in ministry. The heartbeat of Cor Deo’s success in the lives of the participants this year has again been the Bible read through partnerships. Simple idea: find someone who will share your ambition to know God more by reading through the Bible boldly and relationally. Set an end goal (perhaps 3 or 4 months), go for it. Underline your highlights and meet up once a week to share a few minutes of highlights and pray for each other. Watch lives get transformed (including your own). Click here for a better explanation.
5. See through your own busy excuse. Of course we are all too busy for any of this, but we all find time for what we consider truly valuable.