My phone rang, unusual in this age of texting. “Can you talk?” my neighbor asked. Well, technically, I could – but truthfully, I didn’t want to. I wanted to tackle my to do list; instead, I cleared my calendar, made coffee and sat at my kitchen table with my neighbor.
She’s my neighbor and had some questions. In a short hour we laughed, cried, prayed, shared, debated, discussed, worshipped and, of course, we ate. This interaction was a direct result of doing ministry outside the church walls.
Welcoming Saints-in-Waiting With Love & Grace
When you equip women to use their spiritual gifts outside the church, they will return to church with lost, lonely, broken women from their neighborhood – women like you used to be, if you can remember your life before Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Some of the people you meet will be saints-in-waiting – people who have not yet met Jesus and whose lives haven’t yet been transformed by His love and power. If you’re really successful, your Bible studies will soon be filled with women living with their boyfriends, people who cheat on their taxes, alcoholics and addicts.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to embrace these women and create a culture of grace within your ministry. Don’t flinch. Don’t rush to condemn or correct. Instead, look at Jesus’ example. Don’t you think Jesus overheard a few f-bombs around Simon’s table? Do you imagine the Samaritan woman dressed modestly to go to the well? Do you wonder if there was a drunk guy telling dirty jokes at the wedding in Cana? Jesus preferred these people. There was no condemnation. No eye roll. Just grace.
This Is What Ministry Should Look Like
As you release women to do ministry, you will be pulled out of the cozy places where everyone speaks our language and sings hymns, and plopped into strange spaces where the language is blue and country music booms. You’ll hear things that make your heart sink and learn stories that make you heartsick. And that’s where you should be.
After releasing 70 disciples into neighborhood ministry in Luke 10, Jesus praised God for revealing Himself to “infants” (verse 21). As women are released into ministry, your women’s ministry just may find itself with a room full of spiritual newborns! In that case, take note of what Jesus did in the chapters following Luke 10. He ministered and taught the basics in relationships, worship, prayer, repentance, faithfulness and more.
This is the risk in releasing the women in your church to go outside the church walls and do ministry: saints-in-waiting and new believers don’t come in tidy packages. But the reward? Oh, it’s eternal.
We want to hear from you: How do you embrace Saints-In-Waiting in your ministry?
BONUS: Leave a comment and you could win a Meet Your Neighbor gift package, including two coffee mugs, coffee, coasters, and invitations you can use in your neighborhood. Winner will be selected randomly from comments submitted before Wednesday, May 20.