Transitions are seldom easy, but the right transitions directed by God enable you to find fulfillment and be in ministry for others in meaningful ways. There were many tears shed as Mell and I said good-bye to two dearly loved churches and prepared to join Virginia Beach United Methodist Church. We are sad to leave and excited for the opportunity to serve a dynamic, growing and mission minded congregation serving their community with enthusiasm and creativity.
One thing, I’ve learned from churches of all sizes. My role as a leader is important but churches experience growth and fruitful ministry through committed, motivated and unified members.
Here are a few questions I ask when arriving at a new church: How do we take God’s amazing grace outside our church walls? How do we focus more on bearing fruit for Christ? How can I present myself more as a fellow-pilgrim serving Christ rather than an expert in all things religious? How can we, together be activists, whose actions speak louder than words?
I recently started wearing a light green wrist band with the words: Prayer, Care and Share on the top and our website: www.VBUMC.org on the bottom. I’ve ordered several thousand to give away. Why?
We pray for and care for our neighbors while looking for opportunities to share our beliefs. Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12) We are to be a light while remembering Jesus is the source.
- How to take God’s amazing grace outside our church walls? We pray, care and share.
- How to present myself as a fellow pilgrim? Prayer is the tool that makes pilgrims of all.
- How can you be an activist? Acts of caring speak louder than words.
- How can we be more creative? Sharing our faith with others inspires creativity.
Here is my challenge: 1. Choose two to three people in your family, neighborhood, school or workplace and add them to your prayer list. 2. Ask: Where is God leading you? Then, for 60 days:
- Pray for them regularly by name and ask God to use you as an influence.
- : Look for opportunities to demonstrate God’s love with simple acts of caring.
- Trust God to provide an opportunity to share your faith in an appropriate way.
The wrist band serves as a continual reminder of the challenge. For 60 days, I will be praying for specific people, looking for opportunities to offer an act of caring and trusting God to offer an opportunity to share my faith. At the end of 60 days, I hope to see a miracle within the lives of the people I am praying for and a miracle within me as God directs.
“You are the light of the world – like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all.” (Mat. 5:14)
I first tried the challenge years ago and selected three people. The first few days went by with nothing much happening so my prayers took on a tone of frustration. But, I heard an internal voice asking: “Have you provided an act of caring?” Sheepishly, I could only respond with, “No!”
I was the perfect example of “preaching the message” and expecting others to do the work. Something had to change and the change had to happen within me.
I had a new bread-making machine in a corner of the kitchen unused. The small voice whispered: “Prepare loaves of bread and deliver them as an opportunity to share?” Bread? Me? Shouldn’t I be doing something more grandiose, more theological? After all, I am a preacher! From the silence that followed, I assumed the answer from God was… make bread!
There were several hilarious failures which involved learning about the importance of following instructions: Who knew a tablespoon of yeast was important? Who knew that you couldn’t open the lid early and peek? Finally, I had three loaves of bread that were presentable and edible.
My first visit was to a retired teacher who recently stopped attending church. There was a dispute, feelings hurt and rumors she would never return. I presented the bread. After a pause, she said with a smile: “Usually preachers are asking for something. This is the first time one ever gave me anything!” Then she invited me in. We talked about the dispute and prayed for guidance. Weeks later, she quietly returned to her church.
The second visit was to a recently separated mother trying to raise three children. When I gave her the bread she sat down and cried. Soon we were talking about her struggles and praying together. The third visit was to a car dealer friend in town. He attended another church but loved telling all his customers about the crazy preacher who brought him a loaf of bread.
Prayer, Care, Share: so simple, yet so effective. Prayerfully consider taking the 60-day challenge for yourself. Choose two to three people. Ask where God is leading you. Then for 60 days: 1. Prayer, 2. Care, 3. Share. I would love to hear your story. Let me know how you are doing. Email me at: LarryDavies@PrayWithYou.org.