Bill Clinton made headlines with the phrase “It’s the economy stupid.” He wanted people to realize that there are lots of issues to talk about and lots of ideas to base a presidential strategy on but the key determiner in his mind was the economy.
When it comes to deciding on where to minister there is also a lot of issues to talk about and various causes on which to focus a strategy. Some focus upward and center their strategy on key denominational leadership positions. Others focus on relationships and center their strategy on building community. Certainly these are not bad ideas. Yet, I think there is a more strategic way.
Denominational leaders, like government leaders come and go. Some are good and some are not so good. Who is good and who is bad depends primarily on your theological and political beliefs. Regardless, God gave leaders to equip the saints to do ministry. It is the ministry of the local church multiplied in communities around the world that makes the difference. God calls to focus on ministry – that is preaching Christ and Him crucified.
There are sparsely attended historic churches at the center of so many towns in America. These churches have been part of the community for a long time. Folks get married there, have their funerals there and go there in times of trouble. Unfortunately, many of these churches have not been the kind of spiritual comfort they could have been. Members are nice, willing to help but are often unable to offer what really satisfies – the gospel of Christ. Sinners need a savior. Nothing else will do. Those who walk in darkness need called to the light that their sins, both personal and corporate, might be exposed and they might find forgiveness and acceptance in Christ. The saints who should be doing this kind of ministry are vastly underequipped because the pulpits of these churches have not been preaching the scriptures.
Why build a church on the outskirts of town when there are so many already built in town? Why recreate church government and structure when there is one already in place? Why seek a pulpit elsewhere just because denominational leadership isn’t excited about gospel ministry? There are hundreds of pulpits and congregations without a pastor in historic churches across America. Is God calling you to preach in such a place?
Ministering in declining historic often requires dealing with a wide diversity of thought and denominational leadership that sees ministry from a different point of view. Similarly, foreign mission often requires one to deal with difficult governmental leadership and rules. Those called to ministry can overlooks the cost for the value of preaching Christ to all people. Why is that not true of local missions? The churches are there, the ministry opportunity is there, the mission field of the community is there. All that is missing is a pastor who will love them and preach Christ crucified.