Stop-and-Go Ministry

Sam Rainer

May 7, 2009

Below is my column from the most recent issue of Outreach Magazine. With the newest issue, they’ve updated the format, and it looks great. If you’re not currently subscribing, the bi-monthly magazine is a great resource for reaching your community.

I once thought my father had incredible power. My brothers and I savored the days when he would pick us up from school and take us back to his office at the church. On the way he would demonstrate his authority over stoplights. At each one, he would wait dramatically and then yell, “Krrrpow!” The red light would change green. The car would go. We were spellbound.

It took us a couple of years, but we figured out Dad’s trick of timing the opposing yellow light. My brothers and I, however, will never forget the fun ride of stopping and going.

When God guides a church, it’s not a smooth journey. Ministry in a community is stop-and-go. The church is called to go share the only message of hope and stop for those in need.

Many people are aware that something bigger than their personal world exists. They desire to take part in something that makes a difference. In fact, recent research reveals that the majority of churched and unchurched young adults rated the opportunity to meet the needs of others (locally and globally) as extremely important in their lives.

To impact the world, however, God requires the Church to stop and go.

The Ministry of Going

The Church’s mission today is the same mission given to Peter, Paul, Silas and Barnabas. We live sent. We live like Christ. Jesus came incarnationally. He was God in the flesh dwelling with the people. We too are called to live incarnationally, going to and living among the people. The people of the Church are described as light and salt, the guide and flavor of culture.

In Luke 10, Jesus sends 70 people to an abundant harvest in the surrounding towns. His directive is short and clear, “Go.” Their ministry would not be easy, but they were called to move quickly and impact widely. Jesus made the implications of his mission unmistakable: You cannot go without moving and impacting.

Moving implies that you meet people where they are. The church should be more “go and tell” and less “come and see.” Impact implies that the church changes the community. Our purpose is to make Christ known and to help transform people’s lives.

The Ministry of Stopping

We hear a lot of church talk about going. Deservedly so, it’s a huge part of the church’s mission. Equally important as going, however, is stopping. And no one better than Jesus demonstrates the importance of stopping. Mark 10 reveals this critical element of Jesus’ mission.

Traveling through Jericho on the road to Jerusalem, Jesus hears a blind beggar named Bartimaeus crying out to him from a large crowd. Jesus was on his way to the cross. The entire redemptive history of humankind was at stake. He was on his death march to save the human race. If anyone ever had an excuse not to stop, it was Jesus at this moment. Jesus did not push forward through the crowd. He did not offer the excuse that he must deny one to save many more. This passage reveals a significant part of Jesus’ ministry in two powerful words: “Jesus stopped.”

In this passage Jesus demonstrates one of the major implications of stopping. To reach those society has labeled the least, we must be willing to put them first. This blind man became a child of God because Jesus took the time to stop and make him the priority.

The Church’s mission is stop-and-go. We go to people. We stop for people. We go with urgency. We stop with compassion. Jesus demonstrates both, and we are called to do the same.

7 comments on “Stop-and-Go Ministry”

  1. Brandon Cox says:

    What an awesome thought! I think we’re so busy going and going and going that stopping seems quite scary to most of us. Thanks for the challenge!!

  2. kdb1411 says:

    An excellent reminder for all of us who strive to do His work. Thanks.

  3. Ann says:

    Great reminder. Sometimes our schedule is so full of activities we proudly label “serving the Lord” that we fail (or worse, refuse) to see blind Bartimaeus, the grieving widow, or the outcast leper.

  4. Anonymous says:

    A great message for our church as a whole, but especially for our mission team as we prepare to reach people in Appalachia with the Gospel of Christ. Keep it up down there!

  5. Stopping seems to be the theme of my life this year. I was challenged at Catalyst by Jim Collins to create a Not-To-Do list, and have been attempting to live by that new concept. It’s tough. I like the concept of stopping FOR people. A long cup of coffee may be the best ministry investment ever.

  6. What an insightful and edifying article.

    More blessings,
    Apostle Paul Katongole

  7. Well-done, thank you for the great work that you’re doing in the kingdom of God .am pastor James in Uganda, East Africa. with great pleasure, am glad to meet your organization at the website and seeing wonderful friends like you .l pastor a church of over 700 people with 30 leaders, of which l greatly need your support and want to partner with your organization .Northern Uganda has been suffering with war for the past 20years and the people have suffered and have a lot of stress, poverty, rejection, bitterness and HIV/Aids.
    However, let us join together and serve in these areas of the earth in partnering through
    Crusades, Seminars, Conferences, evangelism.
    Therefore, to enclose, l have great hope that we may partner and serve the Lord together in this part of the world.
    Welcome to Uganda the pearl of Africa.
    Thank You
    James Odeke.
    +256-772675744, +256-773132921

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