When God Sends Them Our Way

While attending seminary on a full-time basis, I also serve as a part-time associate minister in a small congregation which is an overwhelmingly congregation of elderly people. This church is your typical traditional Church of Christ. There is no big exciting ministries taking place and certainly there is no dazzling youth ministry going on (we don’t have any teenagers in attendance).

Well three weeks ago two teenage boys, one of whom lives two blocks from the church building, decided to walk over to our building and visit us for worship. Because I was leading songs that morning, I was not able to speak with them until after services were over. After talking with them, I honestly thought that they would never show up again. But wouldn’t you know it, this past Sunday morning they both showed up again for Sunday School, worship (the beginning of our Gospel Meeting), and then stayed for the potluck afterwards..

I and another associate minister who attends seminary with me were able to spend the class time with them, getting to know these boys a little better. They wanted to study the Bible. Now let me tell you, everything you have heard about a postmodern world view was true with them (as far as I could tell). When asked what they thought about God… they replied that he is like a superhero in the sky.

Now since I happen to be very interested in the subject of Christian ministry in a postmodern setting, I was not intimidated one bit by the fact that their world view and understanding of life carries a complete different set of assumptions then I was raised with. Of course, I realize that postmoderns learn much easier through experience than rational thought (which is neither good nor bad).

So I thought that it would be very nice to have a dynamic youth group (community) to which I could invite these two teenager into and let them see the transforming power of God at work among a community of “God-people, so that they could eventually see that all of this “Bible / Church” stuff has some merit to it – hoping that this would lead them to an embracing of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. But I don’t have this. All that I had was a library, the other associate minister, some Bibles, and some knowledge (feeble knowledge) to offer them. We started with Genesis and I tried to help them see the point of the creation narrative and why it meant something to the Israelites coming out of Egyptian captivity. And this rational discourse was intended to teach them that God created them to be his special people as well.

So I did not have the “ideal” environment for spiritual transformation among a couple of teenage postmodern minds. God still sent them our way and placed them before me so that they could begin to here and see the good news of God. No, I did not have the picture perfect situation to work with but I have learned something again. Discovering God is not dependent on whether I can engineer the perfect environment for spiritual transformation. Yes, if I had my choice it would be a different environment. But I did not have that luxury. Still, God sent them our way. I then can only do two things: 1) Plant the seed of Jesus Christ, and 2) trust God to water and increase that planted seed. I am still grateful for the opportunity to spend at least one morning with these two boys showing them where true life is found.

Who is God sending your way?

4 responses to “When God Sends Them Our Way

  1. Hi Rex,

    You know, I don’t think the “ideal situation” for ministry is an illusion. I learned that from the time I ministered in Brattleboro, Vermont and where I am at now. The two couldn’t be more different from each other. I had my conclusion on what was “ideal,” but have come to the realization that this does not matter. My desire for “ideal” conditions took myself too seriously and God not seriously enough.

    I now realize that the only “ideal” that matters is God. I mean, take a look and the messed up people he chose to work through! I mean, Abraham, the man who lied about his wife being his sister and then allowed her to live in someone else’s harem so that he can save his skin? Samson, big and stupid. Even children think he is stupid. The Bible is full of adulterous, murdering, messed up people that as a child, I used to remember as “heroes” in the Bible. Now that I see how the Bible portrays them, I realize that there are no heroes in the Bible. There is God, and the people that he displays his power and wisdom through. I think it is in Matthew 11:42 where Jesus thanks God that he hid these things from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to babes. It was ordinary, messed up people that turned the world upside down for Christ. I don’t obsess to much any more about “getting it perfect.” For myself, I think that obsession may have been more the result of pride rather than the humble desire to be faithful to God. Just a few ramblings.

    Thanks for sharing Rex

  2. OOPS – My first sentence above should have said – “You know, I think the “ideal situation” for ministry is an illusion.” Drop the “don’t”

  3. John, you are right. Idealism is an illusion we only dream about. Furhter more, the good news of Jesus has always been given to be proclaimed by people — a bunch of “jars of clay.” And the amazing thing is, we are those jars of clay and God still uses us.

  4. I love this post! God doesn’t always use the ideal time, place and circumstances (in our minds) to reveal His will and reach people. I have had similar experiences over the years. So much of life is about the “ordinary”, “unimportant” and “unpredictable” moments. Even when it is not ideal, expected or even convenient, the Father and the Spirit are constantly working. Praise God that you and the associate minister were open and available to God and these two precious young men during this “imperfect” opportunity. Too many of us would have not given a second thought to let an incident like this slip away. Thanks for sharing!

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