I spent the bulk of my day in committee meetings today. Many people I know take a dim view of these types of meetings. I confess I'm a little bit of a dork, but I actually enjoy them. I enjoy seeing the hood of the organization opened and its inner workings exposed for observation. All organizations are rough approximations. That is, there are inefficiencies in every organization: inefficiencies and frictions in relationships, creative (and harmful) tensions between people and departments. But that's life. All organizations are rough approximations of True Community.
I think we do a pretty good job at what we do. Are we perfect? Not by a long shot. But I get discouraged at some in my own generation that eschew involvement in "tinkering under the hood" because they somehow feel it is artificial or unworthy of their attention.
The first evening of Council was a winner too. I entered the darkened auditorium and found my seat in crowded bleachers.
Excuse the poor camera phone pic. John Stumbo spoke about the cost of ministry...a cost that seems to be getting higher. The cost of ministry is high...and often it hurts. Quoting a Christian researcher, he said that 80% of spouses wish that their mate was in different field. That's pretty striking. He talked about the sheer madness of what we do. It's crazy, and it's crazy not to think it's crazy.
And yet he said too that what we do matters. It matters a lot that lives are being changed by the power of the Gospel. Another speaker told the story of a young man that we'll call Bill. Bill was invited to a Bible study to which he came for a while. He then dropped off the face of the earth for a long time. Eventually he came back and told his story. When he first attended the Bible study he had been a devout follower of his traditional religion. But the more he tried to please his god, the further away from him he felt. He finally came to the conclusion that the only way to gain the approval of his god was to join the ranks of the suicide bombers. So he went and trained for that assignment and was sent to a target. His initial target was closed to him and so he found a school yard full of children, believing it be the place where he would end is life in a holocaust of destruction, taking with him the lives of tens of young school children.
But then one of those children stopped and greeted him. And the true God sent him the blinding realization that it cannot be honoring, it cannot be fruitful, it cannot be good, to take the lives of the innocents. Today that young man is a Christ-follower...someone who has now been changed by the power of the Gospel.
What we do matters. Whether we're working in the US or overseas, it matters a great deal.
And so we closed the evening with a fantastic worship set:
"Jesus bold me close, closer Lord to you... let the earth around me fade away. . ."
"there is none like you...no one else can touch my heart like you do."