When we dare to do ministry in the shadow of real needs, we walk into a place in people’s lives where the stakes are very high.
In The Journey, we have often felt inadequate when walking into each other’s “Need Zone” because there is no quick fix – It’s not enough there to just pray and say “God bless you…be warm and fed”. One of the three core values we have around our leadership culture is vulnerability – We lead by modeling this, sharing our own human weakness and establishing the grace of God for us first. This carves out a territory where the blood of Christ is not only spoken of as a doctrine, but relied on and leaned into by the “leader”, driving away any reasons for pretending. When this happens, often there is a flood gate opened as others release all the struggles and pain they have kept hidden in the closet in the name of being “fine” (the “F-word” in a grace-based culture).
Our own learning curve right now has been in the area of sharing resources. We have navigated the use of a kind of “benevolence fund” for each house church, and found that no one really wants to be in the position of “awarding” funds to those in need – deciding how much, if any, to give to individuals. Even having a core group making that decision gives this group an apparent “power status” that changes their relationship with the rest of the group. The other problem we found is that others who give to the fund don’t get to be a part of connecting with the non-financial needs of those who are asking for help.
What we have gone to now is to have people share needs with the house church, and just “pass the hat” right there at the time, as well as offer any other resources that the group members may have to offer. We have gotten rid of the “bottle neck”, and maximized the accountability and ownership of needs-sharing in the house church “family”. Time will tell how effective this will be, but I witnessed a great weight being lifted as the Commissioned Leaders reached consensus on this change, and I was reminded of Jesus’ words:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS [Jeremiah 6:16]; For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matt 11:28-30