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Ministry Outside the Box May-June 2012





Moving Out of The Valley of IndecisionMinOut-ValleyIndecision

I’ve been thinking a lot about indecision lately. Oftentimes in the lives of people of faith, we blame indecisiveness on a “prompting” or “nudge” from God: 

“I’m waiting on God to make a decision about this new job opportunity.”

“I’m praying through whether or not I should ask that girl I like on a date.”

“We can’t spend those resources because I haven’t heard from God yet.”

What these statements usually reflect is simple, human indecisiveness; only now, we can excuse that lack of decision-making because God is backing up our choices—or non-choices, as it were.

I was struck by something I read recently from the wisdom literature of an ancient culture. One of its writers said: “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”

Not only is this writer saying, “Think through your actions for yourself,” but he seems to be saying, “And stick with the decisions that you make!”

I want to do more of this. I don’t want to blame God for my inaction or indecision. I want to trust that as I partner with God in my decision-making process, He’ll be guiding me along the way. That way, when the moment of decision comes, I can make a clear and thought-through decision without hesitating—steadfast.

My guess is some of you want the ability to make your own decisions again. Your ability to decide for yourself has been eroded by well-meaning people who want you to believe that God will be mad if you do something on your own initiative. They’re well intentioned, but they are wrong.

Talk with friends, mentors or peers. Think through the decisions that lie ahead. Give careful thought to where each road may lead, but decide something.

You may fail along the way. You may make wrong decisions. You may not think through all the possibilities that await on the other side of the hill you’re traveling on. That’s OK.

You were created with a brain that can think and process and mull over and rethink and categorize and filter and reprocess and decide. Yes, there is a place where the transcendent meets our thinking, but it aids and directs—it doesn’t restrict. 

Isn’t that refreshing? Take these words to heart: “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” Go. Think. Decide. Do. The world will be better for it.


 

MinOut-KirkCameron

“I think that it’s detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization. Marriage is almost as old as dirt, and it was defined in the garden between Adam and Eve. One man, one woman for
life til death do you part. So I would never attempt to try to redefine marriage. And I don’t think anyone else should either.”

—Actor Kirk Cameron in an interview on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight 
in March when asked about gay marriage. 


 

Pastors’ Priorities to Improve Congregations

How do more than 600 senior pastors of Protestant churches nationwide surveyed plan to improve the strategic, operational and administrative aspects of their ministries in the next year based on 12 possible activities? 

59% would assess church’s vision and mission

38% would assess church’s reputation in the community

31% would measure demographic and spiritual needs of the    
        community 

25% would focus on safety and security issues

25% would revamp budgeting and spending process

22% would assess church’s spiritual transformation

22%  would invest in facilities and equipment for children

19% would invest in audio and visual equipment

18% would invest in facilities and equipment for youth and teens

18% would invest in technology and digital media

   6% would work with an organization to help increase giving

   2% would hire a search firm to help you hire the right person

Source: Barna Group


 

Morality Cannot Be Legislated

When you try and legislate morality, it almost always fails. Sure, you’ll get a few converts along the way. You may even get enough people to start a movement of some sort. But eventually, you’ll fail. People will revolt and turn against you.

Why? Because people don’t like to be told what to do. I don’t mean that in a, “I’m taking my ball and going home!” kind of way. I mean that in a, “people would rather be pulled along by vision than pushed by force” kind of way.

Morality is not a head matter. It’s a heart matter. We know this instinctively, but we feel it acutely when the government tells people what they can and cannot say and to whom.

“You can attract more flies with honey than you can with vinegar”—an old saying, but most certainly true. If I seek to live a moral life, it should be for the betterment of my own life and those around me. If you do not seek to live by those same morals, what business of that is mine? 

Hopefully, the vibrancy and light coming from my life will speak louder than any 10,000 words I could hope to say.


 

Can You Back It Up In The Word? MinOut-TheWord

“Do you have any Scripture to back that up?” I find that to be one of the most irritating questions on the planet.

Do I have a disdain for Scripture? Hardly. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t find myself immersed in it in some fashion.

The question irks me because most of the time, the people asking want to prove a point. They want to trip you up. Nab you. “Ah-ha!” they say when you come up empty in your Scripture memory banks. 

They seem to believe that the Bible is nothing more than a reference book, with all the right answers to life neatly cataloged in an easily referenced index.

Let me ask you this: Do you believe punching babies in the face is always a bad idea? Of course you do.Let me ask you another question: Do you believe that shooting methamphetamine into your veins is a bad idea? I certainly hope so.

Now, if someone asked you to cite a Scripture verse for your aforementioned beliefs, where would you go? What verse would you cite? If you read the same Bible I do, you won’t be able to. They’re not in there.

Oops. What do we do then? What do we do when the answers we’re looking for aren’t plainly obvious in Scripture? Jesus Himself spoke to this when  He said, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” (John 5:39, NLT)

The answers we seek aren’t in a book. They’re in a man. That’s where we get things wrong.


 

Justin M. Wise is director of projects and development for the Center for Church Communication (cfcclabs.org), a resource for church communicators. Follow him online at justin.am.

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