In rural ministry, it is easy to fixate on what we don’t have: We don’t have youth in worship, because we don’t have a youth ministry…because we don’t have a youth director… because we don’t have money…because we are a small and aging congregation in a small and aging community…because there are no jobs here attracting young families.
Does this sound familiar? Then you are not alone. I hear similar words from nearly every rural congregation I encounter. But, do you see what we are doing? We are blaming industry for our ineffectiveness at fulfilling our mission to go and make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
I’m going to say that again: We are blaming industry for our ineffectiveness at fulfilling our mission to go and make disciples.
Let’s take a look at this mission:
Matthew 28:18-20 reads, “Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’”
1. Jesus has been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. He is authorized to give out this mission.
2. Jesus is also authorized to empower his disciples to fulfill it. He assures us that he is with us in this to the end.
3. Jesus has told his disciples to make disciples, baptize them, and teach them. Not a generic “the church, but individual disciples together. Sometimes we think, “The church is taking care of x, so I don’t need to worry about it.” Friends, “you are the church. I am the church. We are the church together.”
Own this mission. It is your mission, my mission, AND our mission.
If we are going to own this mission, then we need to start by owning our current ineffectiveness. So the truth might look more like: We don’t have a youth ministry, because we haven’t figured out how…yet. Sit with this truth this week. Re-write your statements about what you don’t have so that you own it…and hold on. Good news is coming!