Qualities of Effective Ministries
Having an Effective Ministry
When I was attending Liberty University in Lynchburg Virginia, I had the pleasure of working at the Liberty Godparent Home. The Liberty Godparent Home was a place that took care of pregnant girls from the ages of 15-24. They went to school on the premises, received medical care, and they were either taught how to care for their coming child, or were helped to place their baby through the Adoption Agency at the home. Well, one day my brother called me. His step-daughter, who was 17, was pregnant. We managed to get her admitted to the Godparent Home. While she was there she got her GED, had a beautiful baby, and got saved.
I'm sure that we would all agree that the Godparent home had quite a ministry. I'm also sure that all of us here today would like to have that same type of impact upon the world with our own ministries. God has given us a blueprint for ministry, and it is found in Luke 9:10-17.
This is a familiar passage for us. It is commonly called the "Feeding of the 5000." This miracle is the only one common to all four gospels; a testimony to its importance. Jesus teaches his disciples an important lesson here. He teaches them how to have effective ministries.
God also desires us to have effective ministries today.
But how can we have effective ministries?
Our text suggest three QUALITIES of effective ministries.
First of all, effective ministries have compassion for people.
We see in verse ten that the apostles, which are the 12 disciples as seen from verse 1, had just gotten back from proclaiming the kingdom of God and from healing the sick. Mark 6:31 records Jesus saying to the disciples,"Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest awhile." So Jesus takes them across the Sea of Galilee to a city called Bethsaida. But the people found out about it, and followed him. When they arrived for their much needed rest, they were swamped. But Jesus did not send the multitude away. Instead, he began teaching and healing them. When Matthew and Mark record this event they use a very interesting word. They say that Jesus felt compassion for the people, and that is what prompted his response.
When my family lived in Lynchburg, we attended Chestnut Hill Baptist Church. My wife and I were members of the Young Adult Sunday School Class. Near Christmas time the association began asking for volunteers to bring care-packages to those who were having difficulty during the holiday season. Our class brought one to a woman who had two children. They were living in a home that had been condemned. There were places were you could see though the wall and out into the street. The children were underfed and barely clothed. Some members of our class were changed because of that experience. They had shown compassion, and the Lord had responded by making them more compassionate.
Over and over again the scriptures command us to be a compassionate people. 1 Jn 3:16-17 says this: "We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?"
When we examine ourselves today, can we truly say that we are compassionate? Sometimes we can get so caught up in our day to day routines that we forget about people. Other times, we get so tired that we don't care at all. How can we fix that? Well, we can pray for other people, and we can pray for ourselves. That indeed may be the most important thing. But we can also act upon what we know is right, regardless of how we feel at first. Modern psychiatrist have a phrase, "You can act yourself into a new way of thinking, but you can't think yourself into a new way of acting." That is especially true in the Christian life. As we act upon what we know is right, God will work in our hearts just as he did with that Sunday School class.
Not only do effective ministries have compassion for people....
But effective ministries also recognize their responsibility.
The disciples didn't want to. Look at verse twelve. What might pass for compassion loses something with their command to Jesus. "Jesus, you take care of it. Send them away, and then they can take care of themselves. We don't want to." They seem a little upset that their quiet afternoon was disturbed. But Jesus tells them immediately that they are the ones who are supposed to feed the multitude. Mark's narrative puts them in an even poorer light. We find out that they didn't even attempt to find out how much food was available. They went out and brought back the report that one boy had some food with him: five loaves and two fish. While daunting to the disciples, it doesn't stop Jesus. He has the disciples continue on like they have a banquet before them.
The disciples aren't the only ones who tried to avoid their responsibility. Jonah tried it long before they did. When God commanded him to go preach to the people of Ninevah he ran away. It wasn't until he was in the cold, dark, dreary belly of that fish for three days, that he repented. When he was lying on the beach in a puddle of whale gastronomical juices, the word of Lord came to him again. Guess what he did? He went to Ninevah.
Most of us here have probably had a job where there was a job description. That job description contained a list of our duties, our responsibilities if you will. If we wanted to keep our jobs we fulfilled our responsibilities.
God has also given us responsibilities to fulfil. Jesus summed them all up in Matthew 22:37-38. He said that the whole law was summed up by two things: that you love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul, and that you love your neighbor as yourself. There is a lot of responsibility placed upon us in those two statements. Once we recognize our responsibility we will minister to those around us.
Effective ministries not only have compassion for people, and recognizes their responsibility....
Effective ministries expect great things from God.
What happens next? After the crowds have been organized, Jesus takes the food and blesses it. He then breaks off a piece, and breaks off another piece. He keeps on going and going just like the Energizer rabbit. Can you feel the awe of the disciples as they keep going back for more and more food for the people? Notice that it wasn't until all were satisfied that Jesus stopped. And even then, when all was gathered, Jesus had more than supplied their needs. The disciples had learned to expect great things from God.
William Carey is often considered the father of missions. While reading about the voyages of Captain Cook he was drawn to the "heathen world." He wrote a pamphlet entitled "An Inquiry into the Obligation of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen." That in itself turned minds and hearts to the lost of other lands. But, on May 30, 1792 he preached a message entitled "Expect great things from
God, attempt great things for God." From that message sprang the Baptist Missionary Society in England.
The text for that sermon was Isaiah 54:2,3 which reads: "Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your pegs. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess nations, And they will resettle the desolate cities." The Israelites are told that when they try to broaden their borders, God will give them the land. If they attempt great things for God, they should expect great things from God.
Our responsibility is to attempt great things for God. That's what the disciples finally learned. Of course, they had Jesus' help. But we do also. Jesus told us that he would be with us always, even until the end of the age. If, in our ministry, we attempt great things for God, we should expect great things from God. That is God's promise to us today.
Now, what about the Godparent home? Does it share these qualities of effective ministry, or does it come up short. It takes in pregnant teenage girls and cares for them; it certainly shows compassion for people and recognizes its responsibility to minister to the world around us. It is a non-profit organization that is run entirely on contributions, has a medical facility, and a state regulated adoption agency which places the babies in Christian homes. It certainly expects great things from God.
We have a decision to make here today. We can have an effective ministry or not. God has given us his formula for one. Now it is up to us to follow it.