I’m here in the city of Columbus, in the state of Ohio, ready for the #VineyardGlobalFamily conference (#VineyardGlobalFamilyAloha!). For the next five days I’ll be spending time with old friends and new friends seeking after God’s active presence, trusting he will respond to the cry of our hearts!
In addition to hearing from some great speakers and worshipping alongside many of my friends, I’m asking the Lord to speak to thousands of people about his mission of making himself known. I’m praying that the Lord would move people to discover (or rediscover) God’s mission and “get in the game”!
What I love about this conference is its global focus. There will be Vineyard leaders and church members from all over the world! And while there will be diversity in other gatherings, we are all centered on King Jesus and his kingdom! After all, that’s what kingdom ministry in the Vineyard is about, right?
Kingdom Ministry is Globally Centered on Jesus
As most of us hopefully know, the ultimate example of kingdom ministry is found in Jesus the Christ, word-worker par excellence. All that we are called to do in the Vineyard was first lived out in his life and ministry, not to mention his death and resurrection. We are not called to figure out our ministry but to continue his ministry in the context that God guides us toward. As Karl Barth wrote, “Jesus Christ is the objective reality of revelation.” Every Christian doctrine and all of our activity must be determined in light of Jesus!
I’m so thankful that God is moving people, all over the world, to join his mission. Whether in urban, suburban, or rural communities, God is actively engaging with people for his greater glory and the well being of people! And all of us, regardless of the missional context, are working alongside each other in the unity and power of the Holy Spirit to this end! We all want to make disciples and see the world transformed!
In the Small Town USA partnership, we’re specifically working to help equip pastors, churches, and aspiring church planters to be able to effectively join God’s mission in small towns and rural communities all across the United States (and hoping we can be of some sort of help for our global sisters and brothers as well!).
The Fear of “Doing the Stuff” in Small Town USA
John Wimber said that “faith” is spelled R-I-S-K. In all of my experiences of following the leading of the Holy Spirit, that has been an excellent way of defining the feelings I’ve had in the past! Whenever I’ve sensed the Holy Spirit leading me to share something with someone, be it words or actions, part of me used to be absolutely controlled by the fear of being left out to dry. “Lord, I’m afraid that if I do this, you’ll leave me hanging!”
Have you ever felt that way?
I think it’s pretty natural to experience those feelings. Let’s face it, doing the things that Jesus did and saying the things that Jesus said… knowing we’re not Jesus… can be scary.
One of the great fears I’ve had in the small town I pastor at is that once I “do the stuff” and I totally fail, everyone in town is going to know what a weird I am! I’ve had this picture of me doing something and then everyone in the small town finding out that I’m one of those “wacky Christians” that believes God loves everyone and that the Holy Spirit is at work in peoples lives and still speaks to people and heals people and…
That’s exactly what I believe! So why have I been so afraid in the past? I think we forget a crucial biblical truth…
Fear Not, People Belong to Jesus
While Jesus is our ultimate example in everything, I also have a ton of love and respect for the apostle Paul. I mean, the dude is a church planting giant! He travelled all over the known world in the first century, proclaiming and demonstrating the kingdom, planting churches as disciples were made. #Awesome. #Amazing. #ReleaseMoreLord #GoodExample.
I mean, the dude is a church planting beast. In 2 Corinthians 11 we read that Paul had been beaten too many times to number, he’d almost died multiple times, been whipped with thirty-nine lashes on five different occasions, been beaten with rods, been stoned, shipwrecked three times and floated adrift in the middle of the ocean for a whole night and day, faced danger from rivers and robbers and had traveled all over the known world while being hungry and thirsty and suffered through cold winters with little clothing. Wow.
I imagine that Paul was afraid on many occasions. Just read the Book of Acts and you’ll find great examples of when you and I would be absolutely terrified!
Yet Paul just keeps going and going and going like the Energizer Bunny of church planting.
Why? What kept him going? In addition to having personally had Jesus show up on the road to Damascus and having seen numerous examples of God powerfully demonstrating miracles, there’s another vital truth to behold. One evening, while Paul was in Corinth, it appears he must have been somewhat discouraged and worried. So what does the Lord do? He speaks to Paul in a vision and says:
“Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me.” (Acts 18:9-10 NLT)
Keep going, Paul. not only am I with you, which is good enough reason, but there are people in the city you are in that belong to me!!!
There are people in the city you live in that belong to Jesus. They are all around you. In small towns those people may be spread out more than in urban or suburban areas, but they exist nonetheless. So fear not… Jesus is with you through the presence of the Holy Spirit and he is at work in the hearts and minds of women and men all around us!
And not only are there people around you that belong to Jesus, you belong to Jesus. You are his. And he loves you with a radical love and unimagined grace that should, I believe, produce inexpressible joy in your heart!
Here’s a video highlighting some of the “stuff” we’re doing in the Small Town USA partnership:
About the author
Luke Geraty is a young budding pastor/theologian who serves at Trinity Christian Fellowship. Husband of one, father of five, and deeply committed to proclaiming Jesus and the kingdom, Luke contributes regularly to ThinkTheology.org and Multiply Vineyard. Follow Luke on Twitter, Facebook, or send him an email.