We built this ministry

Psalm 20
My intentions were good. I promise. There had been a new program meant to spur churches into better caring for their members. The program followed the wave of a new movie a lot of people had seen. So, I gathered a group of willing saints and went through the study. We watched clips of the movie and talked about how we could implement the program.

Just past the midpoint of the study, someone asked two pointed questions. They were something like, Why don’t we just do what the Bible tells us to do? Do we need some screwy program like this? That made the remainder of our time seem inadequate. But I’m glad the questions lingered.

Why didn’t we take more serious the call to take better care of our church family? Why did someone like me try to use a program to make it happen? Was the Bible not enough? Did the love of neighbor not prepare us?

I’ve been leery of church programs ever since. Even church ministries. Too often, they rest on the idea that we’re doing something. As if that’s the goal of ministry and discipleship. The real goal, of course, is to deepen our communion with God. It would surprise most people to learn how much action stems from that movement.

But it’s easier to rely on our programs. We built them, after all. We can control what we do and what we don’t do through them. No wonder we love them so much. Hasn’t the pandemic taught us how shaky a foundation those kinds of ministries stand upon? Jesus said, “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes (John 3:8). Can we endure that kind of uncertainty in our ministries today?

Psalm 20 is a prayer before battle. You can hear its call to God for protection and victory. Imagine any group of soldiers hearing it as they set out. It’s a hopeful plea to the Lord. A plea rooted in trust in who God is and what God has done. Listen to verse 7 again. Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses, but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God. Doesn’t that call back to scenes from the exodus?

Let’s reimagine such a prayer today for our churches. Some take pride in budgets and their social media keenness. Some know how to keep people busy. Others rely on their sense of what they used to be. And a few more know how to give the people want they want.

But our pride is in the name of the Lord. Let’s build on that.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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