“Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.” Luke 10:3-4 NIV
In the middle of devotional writing, I took a break and hopped on a conference call with a large multi-site church interested in starting a recovery ministry. Here are a few of the things I heard as I listened in on their vision:
- They were very excited about this potential start up because they heard of a church that had hundreds of people coming to a recovery ministry in another state, and wouldn’t this be so cool to “pack the house out”?
- They wondered if other recovery ministries had succeeded in getting grant money, because wouldn’t it be so cool if they could score a grant or two because then they could hire a staff person to oversee this packed out ministry? (But didn’t pause long enough for a response.)
- They were debating on which of their six sites to start the first recovery ministry, and ultimately chose a location in the suburbs because it had max seating capacity, and wasn’t it going to be cool to fill this thing up on Friday nights? The inner city location was rejected because it really wasn’t convenient for the staff, and who wanted to drive down there in the dark? Oh, and as an aside, they will totally staff this cool thing with volunteers because the staff is too busy to add one more program.
After an hour, someone looked at their watch and noticed it was time for lunch. They thanked me profusely for my time and my help. Easiest hour of my day. I never said ONE WORD. Go! Is a command, not a recommendation, but there all sorts of qualifiers to the commandment. We need to pay attention to them. Go! AND….”I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” This is not, as Dale Ryan once taught, a temperate, moderate approach to ministry. The harvest isn’t hard to find – it’s plentiful, but it is at risk. And no one goes into an at-risk environment without being put at-risk. This sending out is serious business. “Sending out…” We are GOING, not inviting the wolves to come to our place to play. We are moving into foreign territory, where wolves live. And we are lambs. Before the conference call I had a phone conversation with an elderly woman who serves as a volunteer in an inner city church that has 20 members and a huge building. Average age of membership is 82 years old. Not a single one of them in recovery, except for one, and he is also schizophrenic. The building is surrounded by poverty and addiction and gangs (wolves). And these old folks want to help. This sounds about right to me. I’m going to go down and check out what’s going on down there. This feels like a place where the harvest is plentiful, the workers are few and willing with plenty of wolves. I’m kinda stoked!