Tuesday, March 02, 2010
In seminary they called this fancy names like "the ministry of presence," "incarnational living," and whatnot, but there's a very basic truth that at least 80% of ministry is done by simply being around others.
Let me give you a few examples:
Last week at my Bible study one of the ladies brought up a question regarding a friend of a friend who just got a scary medical diagnosis about the heart of their unborn child. Basically, the child has a hole in his heart and will require several surgeries immediately following birth and even with that the prognosis isn't good. The woman in my Bible study received an e-mail from the baby's father asking for advice and information because she is a nurse at MUSC in the children's hospital. In the e-mail, the father said he was too angry to pray, but asked her and others to pray to whomever and whatever they believe in on their behalf. The backstory is that this family does not have a church background. My friend asked how she could share her faith with them in this time and what she should say. We talked about it for awhile and phrases like "God's plan" came up, but ultimately we came to the conclusion that the best thing she could do for this family is be there. Be there to answer medical questions. Be there to pray. Be there to hold a hand if needed. Bottom line - be there. For those without faith, being there with others through something like that is nearly impossible because it forces us to confront our own mortality. As people with faith in Jesus, we have strength to be there and be strong for someone else because we know our mortality is safe in Jesus' hands. It's not the time to talk theology and explain who God is, but simply by being there we're demonstrating that faith. And someday, God will give root and growth to that planted seed.
Another example...Sunday night we hosted an evening of live music at Montreux's Bar and Grill. It was an opportunity to be out where people are. We never talked about Jesus, and the songs that were sung were not directly about Jesus either. Many I'm sure would question whether it was a "ministry" event. The answer: absolutely. Simply by being where people are as a community that celebrates good music and creativity and relationships, we were sharing Jesus.
I hear all the time from people that they're uncomfortable sharing their faith or they're not sure how. Another day I'll talk more about sharing your faith story and being bold in speaking the name of Jesus to others. But for today, I want to offer that the best place to start is simply to be around people - not just the people you like and not just the people who are like you, but be intentional about being with and around people. It speaks more than we often realize.