League of Church Members Extraordinary
(The First in a Series of Articles on Finding People Within the Congregation Who Need Us)
Yesterday, as the receptionist at the medical specialty clinic checked my wife in for a procedure, she handed me a small lighted gadget. "When it goes off," she said, "they're through in the back and will be coming to get you."
We're all familiar with these things. What are they called--buzzers? They fit in the palm of your hand, they're operated by batteries, and restaurants use them for patrons awaiting tables. When they go off, lights flash, the buzzer sounds, and the thing vibrates.
Perhaps this is what the Holy Spirit does when alerting believers to opportunities for ministry, something important to note, a critical moment that has arrived.
Lights, buzz, vibrate.
Pagers. That's what they are called, my daughter-in-law informs me. It brings to mind former days when bellhops would roam hotel lobbies with notes on silver trays, calling out, "Paging Doctor Smith," or whoever. Rumor held that some insecure individuals actually arranged to have themselves paged that way in order to alert others in the lobby to their presence.
Is there a Bible verse that promises the Holy Spirit will alert us--page us--to opportunities, needs, moments? I'm still searching for that.
But it's true. It happens. Everyone who goes to work for the Lord knows those moments when the Spirit nudges us. Go back and give to that homeless man. Get up and speak to that lonely soul. Call her back and ask her to forgive you.
"He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake." (Psalm 23:3)
Now, I'm proposing that every church needs to have at least four teams of workers--probably unofficial, nothing really organized--who will focus on people in the congregation who need our help. As always, be the Holy Spirit who alerts them to the individuals who need them.
What are the four teams? They are four uniquely gifted groups who focus in on four specific kinds of spiritual needs.
1. Deacons and Other Mature Leaders.
These will watch for troubled and the trouble-makers in church.
I know this, Paul told the Ephesian elders, that after my departure, grievous wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore, watch.... (Acts 20:29-31)
2. Compassionate Healers.
These will watch for the lonely, hurting, withdrawn souls within the congregation.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
3. Trained Witnesses and Soulwinners.
These will be alert to seekers in the congregation, those outsiders who are looking for what Jesus Christ and only He has to offer.
As you go, preach, saying the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 10:7). Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. (Acts 8:35)
4. Ministers of Connections
These will be watching for gifted people within the congregation who are doing nothing with their calling/gifts/talents/abilities and matching them up with places of opportunity that need what they do.
Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, to seek Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch (Acts 11:25-26). A great revival had broken out among the Gentiles in Antioch, and Barnabas recalled that Saul had been called by God as an apostle to this very group.
So! That's the plan. In the four articles that follow, we will be sharing stories and whatever insights we can glean on this subject.
My wife says I might need to warn readers to watch out for my intemperate language in the titles of these articles. The first one, dealing with mature leaders on the alert for troublemakers within the congregation will be titled Watching for the Devil in Pew Number 7.And the second, on compassionate healers watching for the needy and lonely, I'm calling Find the Ugly Woman in the Balcony.(Incidentally, I'm doing this against her counsel. She says it will be needlessly offensive. I counter that all other titles I can think of are boring, and that this fits perfectly. We'll see. No one will be surprised if, once again, she's right.)
Dr. Joe McKeever is a Preacher, Cartoonist, and the Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Visit him at joemckeever.com/mt.
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About Joe McKeever
Joe McKeever says he has written dozens of books, but has published none. That refers to the 1,000+ articles on various subjects (prayer, leadership, church, pastors) that can be found on his website -- joemckeever.com -- and which are reprinted by online publications everywhere. His articles appear in a number of textbooks and other collections. Retired from "official" ministry since the summer of 2009, Joe stays busy drawing a daily cartoon for Baptist Press (www.bpnews.net), as an adjunct professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, writing for Baptist MenOnline for the North American Mission Board, and preaching/drawing/etc for conventions and churches across America. Over a 42 year period, McKeever pastored 6 churches (the last three were the First Baptist Churches of Columbus, MS; Charlotte, NC; and Kenner, LA). Followed by 5 years as Director of Missions for the 135 SBC churches of metro New Orleans, during which hurricane katrina devastated the city and destroyed many churches. Joe is married to Margaret, the father of three adults, and the proud grandfather of eight terrific young people. He holds degrees from Birmingham-Southern College (History, 1962), and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (Masters in Church History, 1967, and Doctorate of Ministry in Evangelism, 1973). Joe's father was a coal miner who married a farmer's daughter. Carl and Lois McKeever, both of whom lived past 95 years of age, produced 6 children, with Joe and Ronnie being ministers. Joe grew up near Nauvoo, Alabama, and attended high school at Double Springs. Joe's life verse is Job 4:4, "Your words have stood men on their feet."
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