The second Christ Church of Oak Brook family camp was again a very rewarding experience for the 50+ participants. Those who came were a wonderfully diverse group: new church members and long term members, several “church leaders’, others that almost no one knew, from toddlers to seniors. Out of this group came the suggestion that Christ Church should buy its own camp located, not 7, but 2 hours or less from the church. A few were very serious about this and had the financial resources to help purchase the camp. Spirits were high!!!
Every Monday morning the senior pastor and I would meet to evaluate, discuss, plan, prioritize – what ever was required to keep the church organized, moving forward. Soon after my return from family camp, at our Monday morning meeting, the senior minister suggested that spending a week with so few people was an inappropriate use of my time. I was stunned! He was serious!!
Jesus focused the three years of His active ministry on just 12 people. Jesus and the twelve were together almost 24/7. Why did Jesus choose these particular men? We will never know. Four were fishermen, one was a tax collector, and the other nine? We have no clue what their previous vocations were. The only mention of three of the men is in the context of the list of the disciples. Yet Jesus chose these 12 to be the primary communicators of His truths to the world – and it worked.
Jesus demonstrated how people should live while He established that He really was the promised Messiah. Much of what Jesus did was done before many people: He turned water into wine at a wedding party, spoke to the multitudes, fed 5,000 plus women and children, healed the leper, the blind, the cripple, the demon possessed, raised a man from the dead, confounded the Pharisees. But only the 12 saw Jesus do all of these things, plus calm a storm, enable Peter to walk on water, go apart to pray, wash their feet. One the 12 had the opportunity to be taught by Jesus, to ask Jesus questions. After the resurrection it was to His disciples, gathered in a house with the doors locked, that “Jesus came and stood among them and said ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’” John 20:26-27.
Did Jesus waste His time when He focused His three year ministry on just twelve men?
Which is the more effective way to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and to equip His followers? Is it to minister only to people gathered in large groups, or is it to focus on a select group of people while also ministering to larger groups of people? Jesus chose to focus on a few while also ministering to people gathered in a variety of situations.
In a large church, often there is one person who is best able to communicate God’s truths to people gathered in large groups. If this church, with its gifted communicator, is going to grow solid Christians, to reach out into the surrounding community and even to the world, small groups within the church are necessary. As the believers in a small group grow in their understanding of God’s word and His desire to be personally involved in our lives, people emerge who are equipped to minister in an almost limitless variety of ways – including the leadership of a new small group of people. As this disciple building process continues to continue, a strong church can continue to grow, and not just in numbers. Both the ministry to large groups and to small groups of individuals are necessary.
When the senior minister suggested that spending a week with so few people was an inappropriate use of my time, I was stunned! He was serious!! I am certain we both felt the tension when this weekly meeting was over.
If you are ministering to a small group of people, perhaps to a few individuals, do not be discouraged!!! Others may not understand what you are doing. They may even suggest that you are wasting your time. Your challenge is to live In Partnership With God, and like Jesus, He may have you working with a small number, and like Jesus, not every person you work with will become “leader”. Someone may betray you. Hang in there!! Learn from Jesus, walk in His ways.