Jesus Didn't Do It Alone, Neither Can You.
Have you read Matthew 14 lately? Thousands of people show up for Jesus to heal their sick and teach them, and as it starts to get dark the disciples say to Jesus: “We need to send them away so they can go get some food before it gets too dark.” Jesus shoots right back at them: “You give them something to eat.” So the disciples respond back and say “all we have is 5 loaves and 2 fish” which I suspect was joined with a strange feeling of futility. Jesus takes the food, prays over it, and gives it back to the disciples and they start feeding all the people. When they’re done everyone is full, there’s tons of leftovers, and Jesus saves the day.
If Jesus wanted to, he could have called manna from heaven just like had been done before, and it would have worked. Everyone would have been fed, people would have worshiped God and all would have ended well. Instead, he waited for someone to sacrifice what they had – 5 loaves and 2 fish – and used their sacrifice as the foundation for a miracle.
Jesus didn’t feed the 5,000 without someone first sacrificing the little bit of food that they had, and churches can’t fulfill their mission unless their members make sacrifices too.
When it comes to money, I’ve heard so many pastor’s say: “It’s not what we want from you, it’s what we want for you!” and then they wonder why nothing changes. The offering stays the same, the volunteer levels stay the same, and the level of enthusiasm for the church stays the same.
This should have nothing to do with “want” and everything to do with “need.” Pastors need their congregations to give so the church can fulfill it’s mission. Pastor’s need their congregations to volunteer or people aren’t going to feel the love of Jesus. Churches need to go beyond their 4 walls or the people in their community are going to continue dying without experiencing the love and salvation that comes from knowing Jesus. People within the church need to sacrifice or they’ll never truly experience the power of Jesus in their lives. Remember when Jesus told the disciples to pray and ask God to send workers because the harvest was plentiful but the need was for workers?
When is the last time you asked people in your congregation to make a sacrifice in order to accomplish a project God has placed on your heart?
I believe there are many churches that need to start asking people to make sacrifices. For some, it’s going to be sacrificing money. For others, it’s going to be sacrificing their time to volunteer, or their kids old toys so the nursery can have some new ones.
Is the idea of showing your church members pictures of water stained ceiling tiles in the youth room then asking someone to raise their hand and volunteer to buy new tiles scary? Yes! Will the old tiles ever get replaced unless someone willfully makes the sacrifice to buy them and bring them in? Probably not.
A customer of ours did this very thing. The directors of the greeters ministry desperately wanted welcome packets but the church couldn’t afford them. They went to the pastor, presented everything to him, and on a Wednesday night service the pastor showed people a PowerPoint presentation about Welcome Packets, and why he wanted them at the church. They collected a special offering that night, and when the dust settled, they were able to buy their welcome packets and new banners for the outside of the building!
Our contact at the church called us on Thursday morning super excited because people within the church caught the vision that they had, and took steps in ONE DAY to make it a reality!
Could your church use a dose of that enthusiasm?
Do you have projects you desperately want to accomplish but the “manna” hasn’t fallen yet? Maybe it’s time to make a direct presentation to your congregation and ask them to specifically fill a need within the church.
It’s not hard. All you have to do is show people some pictures, explain what God is putting on your heart, and ask them to make a commitment right on the spot to be part of the solution. If that project is welcome packets, or new printed material, we’ll even help you put together a simple PowerPoint presentation.
At the end of the story, the person who gave up their 5 loaves and 2 fish also ate until they were satisfied. The little bit they sacrificed not only came back to feed them, but it also did more than they ever could have imagined.
What could 5 loaves and 2 fish accomplish at your church?