Disclaimer- I have been exceptionally ill last night and today but I have been thinking about these things so I thought I would write them down. If I read this tomorrow and realize I was delirious then I will remove it.
I think that we can do ministry without Jesus. Don't get me wrong here, I don't think we should, I just think we often do. Now, why would we do that? I may have a partial answer here. The other day we had some guests from the West and I was, as usual, telling my stories. I told them about Kili and Fili and their wives down in Anfalas accepting Christ and starting a Church. One of the guests broke in and ask, 'Wait, if Anfalas is three and a half hours away then who will pastor and lead the new Church?' 'Exactly,' I answered. Who will? If not me, the seminary trained experienced pastor then who could possibly keep this group in line? Who could protect it? Who could guide it? After some discussion I told them, 'Jesus is building his Church. It isn't my job. His Spirit will gift the people and raise up the leaders they will need with the giftings they need when they need them.' It was a bold statement. As I have been thinking about this I have been challenged by others who have had great struggles in raising up mature leaders. Many have poured years of their lives into men and women who are shallow and immature. Many still struggle with weak faith and total dependence on the foreigners. One year since the baptisms Kili and Fili are as fiery a gospel witness as you could hope to find. These men and their wives are dynamic, growing, faithful, and utterly transformed. I thank God for them and well I might. It was Him. It was Jesus all along who has been in control and has transformed these families.
Many times I have had big discussions with Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pipen. They would love for me to just give them a blank check to go out and solve all of the problems that the people around them have. I continually remind them that we must serve people but we are not to be God to people. They must look to Him. We can not, must not solve all of their problems. I believe that God is using the brokenness of this world to bring people to Himself. When we solve the problems ourselves- apart from His guidance and direction- then we short-circuit the process. We end up making disciples of us instead of disciples of Him. I have instructed the team not to refer to anyone as 'their' disciple. We are to make disciples but not of us, of Him. When we do that, when we take Jesus out and set Him loose in the lives of people we love then we can expect to see the radically transformed lives that we have been waiting to see.
I know a group who a few years ago went to a town up north. Through a dynamic prison ministry which reached out to the prisoner's families they saw fifteen house groups start. It was a great time and we all praised God for it. Today none of those house groups exist anymore. A few of the families go to the mother church but the house groups did not continue. Why? Well, they would not say this but I will. The mother Church never let go of control. All decisions were made down here in Minas Tirith. They were only allowed to have the Lord's Supper when an ordained someone from Minas Tirith was up there to give it to them. The groups were completely dependant on the leaders of the mother Church and eventually they died. They died because no matter how good you are you can not change a heart. You can not change a life. You can not raise the dead. But the dead must be raised. It is our calling. So, I must take the only one who can raise the dead with me and let Him get to work. He is eager to do such work in the lives of men and women. The question is are you going to let him? Can we trust Him to be in control and not us?