God has filled them with skill to do every kind of work done by an artisan or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and in fine linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of artisan or skilled designer. – Exodus 35.35
In Exodus 35 we hear how God equipped God’s people with all the gifts and skills needed to construct the first Tabernacle and all the items associated with it to worship God. The Israelites had just escaped from slavery in Egypt. While they were slaves they had learned numerous skills while serving the Egyptians. As a part of their retraining, God was helping them see how they could use the same skills learned in slavery to serve God in freedom. I love how Christ works in this way! The same holds true today. Some things that would hold us in slavery when they are forced on us by this world can lead us into freedom when we purpose them for the Kingdom of God.
We recently put our Deacons in charge of our mission giving. I think this was a wise move because the Deacons are the doer’s of the church. Every Church I’ve served the Deacons love to actively work for the betterment of the congregation. The Deacons are not content to simply mail checks, they want to participate in God’s Mission. Likewise, I expect they will invite others into work. Our last Deacon meeting we spent some time thoughtfully discerning how to maximize our efforts to “be Church” for our community. I love conversations like this!
One thing that holds all congregations back is lack of creativity. The seven last words of any congregation are “We have always done it that way.” If we are a living body, then things will always be changing. In living bodies, there is constant multiplication and dying of cells at any moment. Scripture calls us the church the Body of Christ. We believe that Christ is living having been raised from the dead. And so, we should continuously be searching out new ways to serve our community and draw them to Christ.
To measure how we are doing I think one question we should ask ourselves as a congregation is “What has changed about our ministry here in the last 20 years?” If we can only name things that used to happen which no longer do we have a problem. Some things ending are not a problem, after all, living bodies have cells that are dying every moment. The problem comes in when no new cells replace them. If we can’t name a single new ministry we have initiated that is the problem. In a perverse way, I’ve found some organizations pride themselves in not changing. They see it as a point of pride. Clearly, they are so great they never need to change. This is a temptation which has nothing to do with scripture. The entire New Testament is essentially a wrestling with taking the ancient faith of the Israelites and pushing it forward in light of Christ.
May we be a congregation which is continually inviting new ministry initiatives from people who are passionate. As Exodus 35.21 puts it “And they came, everyone whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing…” to work for the LORD. May we be a congregation of stirred hearts and willing spirits as we follow God’s call into our community. May it be so!
In Christ’s Service,