It was a beautiful, warm morning in October, and our church was hosting a food giveaway. Down the street, car after car was being loaded. Though I had lived on San Jacinto Street for almost 15 years, I had never seen a sight like this. Cars lined the streets of our old neighborhood for at least a mile. Every car was filled with people who had come in hopes of getting a week’s worth of groceries.
80 volunteers in yellow shirts, embossed with “We Feed People”, scrambling to bag the pallets of food stacked down the street in front of the church. They prepared beans and rice,
fresh fruits and vegetables, breads and pies and cakes, canned goods, and pallets and pallets of frozen meats. The people were receiving an entire box of frozen meat, and they
couldn’t believe it.
I was so excited that I failed to realize how strong the sun had become. At one point one of the guys shouted out, “Hey, this meat is beginning to spoil. It’s defrosting.” One volunteer suggested that we start giving away two boxes instead of one. You should have seen the faces of the people who were getting two large boxes of meat. It seemed too extravagant to them. And it did to me, also. But the Lord reminded me of the manna he had given the Israelites in the desert. They could only gather enough for a one day supply. If they tried to keep it, overnight the manna would spoil.
God began to speak to me about giving away not just the side items, but the good stuff, the things we valued the most. At this time, our church was coming to the close of our Residency+ Program, a one-year program through Multiply Vineyard and Vineyard Institute that trains leaders and church planters to be sent out. We were graduating 18 students in just a month, and I was concerned with the possibility of losing some great leaders from our church. I began to understand exactly what God was saying. He was reminding me that these leaders were His, not mine. They had been called by Him to send if He willed. To try and hold onto them would be the same as trying to hold onto the meat. The gift would be spoiled.
He was reminding me that these leaders were His, not mine. They had been called by Him to send if He willed.
I looked down the street again, surveying the group of people that I counted as mine and begin to realize that I owned nothing. It was all God’s and I could be blessed as the pastor who gave it away or just be the man who tried to hold on to what wasn’t his to begin with. I began to cry as I felt the Spirit’s presence. The next car pulled up and before I could say a word the driver and her family began to bless me in such a way I felt like I was the one who had received in full that day.
Here are a few questions to help you examine your perspective on sending out leaders. Ask yourself:
- In what ways am I being closed-handed with my leaders?
- In what ways am I being open-handed with my leaders?
- Are there areas where I am resistant to letting some of my leaders go, if so why?
- Do I believe God has given our community all that we need to thrive as a church?
- How am I sending out my best leaders to continue the mission of Jesus outside of our church and our community?
Raymond McDonald and his wife, Teresa, planted the Vineyard Church of Conroe in January, 2001. Church planting is near and dear to their hearts and 5 churches have been planted out of the Conroe Vineyard both in Texas and Central America. Raymond is also a church planting coach with Multiply Vineyard and well acquainted with Vineyard Worship having visited over 100 Vineyard churches as Sleepy Ray. When not pastoring, Raymond and Teresa love to spend time with their 11 children and 6 grandchildren.