Ministry That Matters
Evangelism has often been coined the “lifeblood” of the church. Over the years, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has engaged in numerous public evangelistic campaigns to foster membership growth from open-air tent revivals to prophecy seminars. As a result of these initiatives, countless individuals have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior along with this wonderful Advent message! Praise the Lord!
However, as time progresses and societal indifference to Christianity increases, it is incumbent that the church strengthen its relationships and ministries with neighboring community residents through felt-need, “scratching-where-it-itches” ministry, in order to facilitate propitious evangelism in our postmodern context. Although given over 100 years ago, Ellen White’s counsel in The Ministry of Healing is very appropriate to our current evangelistic environment, “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with people as one who desired their good. He showed sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’”
Preaching is good! Bible study is great! Proclaiming the good news of Jesus’ soon return is paramount! Yet, for individuals to be receptive to the gospel, people want to know you care. The old adage is true, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Through food pantries, clothes closets, health clinics, disaster relief efforts, tutoring classes, after-school programs, and the like, people will know we care. These ministries are relevant to many of our community residents and positively serve as an entering wedge to reach and build relationships with them.
In Christ’s parable of the sheep and goats as recorded in Matthew 25, Jesus uses the picture of a shepherd separating sheep from goats to explain what the judgment will be like. On judgment day, there will be a separation of people. The sheep, those who have placed their faith in God, done the things He cares about and positively ministered to people, will join Him in heaven. On the other hand, the goats, those who have not shown care to their fellow brothers and sisters, coupled with being disengaged in ministry efforts, will not inhabit eternal life.
The greatest sermon ever preached is the one that is lived. Through our humanitarian ministerial efforts, may others see the “sermon” in us. Relevant ministry–it matters!
By Carlton P. Byrd, D.Min.