Many leadership experts say that a leader should remind their people of the ministry’s mission no less than every 30 days. I can’t say that I always do that with my staff, however, on a personal level I do think of this often. To be quite honest, given the broad nature of our work – job training, housing, construction, work with at-risk youth, transitional living, discipleship – it would be easy for me to be so consumed with the maintenance of these works that I forget our main objective: to proclaim the gospel of Jesus in word and deed and so make disciples, teaching them to obey all that He has commanded.
About a year ago a focus of mine was to meet with as many pastors as possible in Billings as I am confident that the livelihood of our work in the South Side is largely influenced by a collaboration with the Church outside our community. What people in my neighborhood may be lacking – networking opportunities for employment, financial resources, and time – those outside the neighborhood have to offer others. But just the same, my neighbors have so much to offer the Church outside of the South Side – genuine faith in Christ as they trust in His daily provision, a heart and vision for the neighborhood they reside, and resourcefulness. Simply stated: we need the Church outside the South Side, and the Church outside the South Side needs us. In many ways, our livelihood is mutually dependent.
In these meetings, I found that I was drawing the same picture on a napkin time and time again to describe the philosophy of our work in the neighborhood. Thankfully I was able to give my napkin drawing to a gifted staff who created the beautiful image above. It was my intention to communicate to these pastors that: (1) we are very concerned for those on the margins, (2) that we seek out opportunities to proclaim the gospel through our works (the needs we seek to address) as well as through our words (especially in the relationships we form), (3) that we seek opportunities to clearly communicate the good news of Jesus and invite them to a life of following Him, and lastly, (4) that we encourage them to engage and participate in a local Body of faith. If we are to see the shalom (or well-being) of the South Side, I am convinced it will only happen through fostering, encouraging, and building up one’s relationship with Jesus Christ all the while engaging one another as the Church, the Body of Christ.
Through all of the distractions, this is our aim – to make Jesus known, communicate the abundant life that is found in Him and Him alone, and invite our neighbors and friends to receive the gift of salvation and join us as we seek to obey all that He has commanded. By His grace, for His glory, so will it be.