I wasn’t surprised when only about twenty people showed up at a small evening service where I was speaking. Nor did the remarks a lay leader made during the service catch me off guard. Her task, as part of the annual emphasis on mission, was to promote the ministries of the church’s missionaries.
She reminded the sparse crowd that it was their responsibility to pray for, and financially support their missionaries. So far so good, but unfortunately her challenge became destructive just where most missionary motivational speeches go bad. She told them that because they had normal lives, and God had not called them to be missionaries, their role was to support those God had called into “the ministry” with their prayers and finances. It was similar to a challenge a school might give to encourage students to attend a homecoming game. If you can’t be an athlete be an athletic supporter!
As she spoke, few tried to hide their expression of apathy. When she finished, it was my turn. I began by saying, “Unlike the old country song, my heroes have not always been cowboys, rather, my heroes have always been people just like you.” A few smiled faintly as if to say, “Yeah, right. When have I ever been a hero in the church?” I had to be careful. I didn’t want to attack the lay leader. But, at the same time, it was important to challenge part of her message because what she implied was a lie. Sure, the missionaries deserved the church’s support – that part was true. But to tell these people the best they could do was to support those who had a “real call to the ministry,” was a lie. [Read more…]