The more I’m involved in ministry the more I’m learning my greatest ministry happens on the smallest level. Jesus spoke to masses of people very rarely and these large groups were remarkably fickle. The same crowd who wanted to celebrate him was the same crowd who later wanted to crucify him.
Gathering to embrace the teaching of God’s Word has always been part of God’s plan for worship. The New Testament church was born as Peter preached to masses of people. The problem is that preaching has become the emphasis of our churches instead of becoming the catalyst for personal ministry.
Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, “The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk” – 1 Cor 4:20. We can’t amputate the hands and feet from Christ’s Body, keeping only a big mouth and expect to make a difference.
After many years a pastor shared his final Sunday experience. After his final sermon he stood in front of the congregation. People streamed up to thank him for being there for them when they had gone through difficult times and celebrating with them during monumental moments in their lives. The pastor was surprised that nobody thanked him for his sermons but rather his personal ministry to them.
Just to reiterate, our greatest ministry happens on the smallest level. God loved the world greatly and when He embraced his smallest posture of intimate existence the world was forever changed. Making the most of our lives doesn’t help other people’s pain go away. But helping other people’s pain go away does make the most of our lives.
We see both the gathering of the church and personal meetings in homes in the New Testament. It is interesting to me that this wasn’t a new idea but rather the way God’s family had always functioned. As I was reading this morning I found something very curious in Nehemiah.
Everybody gathered together as Ezra taught God’s Word and they all worshiped the Lord:
Nehemiah 8:1-6 The people assembled as one man…Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly… All the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law…Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
Then I noticed the appearance of small group explanations began taking place.
Nehemiah 8:7-12 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. 8 So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading… And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them. NKJV
True disciples make disciples. May we purpose to invest ourselves in the lives of others on a very intimate and intentional level.
Clearly Jesus demonstrated that the way we make a difference is to make disciples.