Every ministry needs a strategy in order to be effective. For LIVING Ministry, our strategy involves (4) parts: ENGAGE, EXPOSE, EQUIP, AND ENTRUST. As we follow the Lord into ministry, this is our approach to uncovering the hope of Jesus Christ.
ENGAGE (Luke 8:26-27): The start of all ministry consists of intentionally reaching out to people where they are. It may seem simple, but Jesus’ model of ministry teaches that he spent time engaging people in their environments. In Luke 8, there is story about a demon-possessed man. He is an outcast in that society, and has been resorted to living among the dead. In fact, the demon possession was so strong in his life that he would often physically hurt himself. But the best part of this story is Jesus’ reaction. In full knowledge of this man and his situation, Jesus goes to him. Jesus isn’t afraid of what might happen to him. Instead, he is more concerned with the state of the man.
At LIVING Ministry, this is the basis for our engagement. Being led by the Holy Spirit, we go and pursue relationships. Whether it is under a bridge, in a classroom, at a university or in a soup kitchen, we seek to build relationships where we can know people and where we can be known by people.
EXPOSE (Luke 8:28): To fully experience ‘home’ we all need to be exposed to truth. While it is undeniable that Jesus was committed to meeting people where they were, he did not stop there. He was also committed to sharing truth with those he reached. When standing in front of the demoniac, Jesus revealed who he was. The man didn’t have a question who Jesus was in that moment. The only question was what his response would be.
Our ministry is also committed to sharing truth with people. We want everyone that touches the ministry to come to a place where they can see Jesus for who he really is. We believe that an encounter with Christ will change everything, and so our ministry strategically thinks about ways to expose the truth about Jesus Christ in all that we do. Whether that is hosting informational sessions with community partners, leading Bible Studies in shelters, providing internships for high school and college students, or hosting street outreaches for church groups, we see everything we do as an opportunity to reveal Christ.
EQUIP (Luke 8:29): Training is an essential piece for someone to fully embrace transformation. The Bible says that we should not only be hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word as well (James 1). As truth is shared in meaningful contexts, it is also important to give people the tools, skills and resources needed to fulfill God’s calling on their lives. In Luke’s account of this demon-possessed man, we see a great picture of equipping. Having been exposed to Christ, the man needed freed from his spiritual and physical bondage. Jesus provides this man with a spiritual cleansing, and the Scripture says that he is seen kneeling at the feet of Jesus, clothed in his right mind. Now he is ready to do the work that Jesus has for him.
Inside of LIVING Ministry, our equipping phase looks different across all areas of ministry. In our men’s and women’s ministries, there are discipleship programs that help spiritually train people to both grow and serve. There are also job training programs, empowerment groups, and conferences that help in that regard as well. We seek to equip our volunteers by training them to be leaders of some of our events. With our coaching, volunteers can be trained to help lead small groups on outreaches, write resumes for those seeking jobs, or to do other tasks inside of the ministry. For many, this training provides practical experience for what God would have next in their lives. For our donors, we equip them by helping them practice inviting others to give generously to the ministry. Whether it is a committee for a banquet, or a runner for the marathon, these folks learn the importance of communicating powerful stories of hope, and how that can translate into sustainability for a ministry. Internships are another way to spend intentional time equipping people. A few years ago, we had one intern from a local University join the ministry. Before her time with us, she had never led a Bible study before, and could hardly muster up the courage to pray in front of others. Through practical experience and coaching, we helped this person use their skills to feel more comfortable sharing about God’s love in a teaching setting. Today that person serves as a missionary teacher in a foreign country.
ENTRUST (Luke 8:39): Many people are familiar with the old adage, ‘you don’t fully know something until you are able to teach it.” This statement is at the heart of what it means for LIVING Ministry to entrust people to fulfill God’s calling on their lives and spread the work of the ministry. In Jesus’ encounter in Luke, the healed man begged to be able to follow Jesus. There is something safe about being around like-minded people where all of your cues can come from another. But Jesus healed this man not to create a follower, but to create a missionary. Encountering Jesus was all that was needed to fully equip this man. Now it was his time to go back to his community and begin the work of engaging, exposing, equipping and entrusting. Later in the Book of Acts, Luke writes about many disciples who are found to be in the cities of the Decapolis, surely a testament to the work of this transformed man.
What is ministry if there is never a point of sending others out? Jesus commanded his disciples to ‘make disciples’ (Matthew 28), disciples that would inevitably make more disciples. If we are doing ministry well, we will be a place where people are entrusted with their specific piece of God’s kingdom work. Within the ministry, that can look many different ways. Someone who is homeless, can be charged with leading a Bible study on their own for other homeless folks. A college student can take up the mantle of becoming a full-time missionary at LIVING Ministry. A monthly donor can join our Board of Directors and begin to set the future course for the ministry. But entrusting doesn’t mean that a person necessarily stays connected with us. Having worked for us, a missionary intern can discover their gifts and passions and translate them into full-time service overseas with a mission organization. A formerly unemployed friend can take up the responsibility of being a spiritual influence in their newly found workplace. A dad can become spiritually rejuvenated and begin actively restoring relationships in his own family, especially with estranged children. Taking what he has been exposed to and equipped with as a member of our ministry family, he can now translate that into powerful spiritual leadership for his own family.
LIVING Ministry is not interested in making clones. Instead, we are always looking for ways for people to create a sense of ‘home’ where people are. Since we are not interested in anyone feeling homeless, we have dedicated ourselves to uncovering the hope of Jesus Christ through ENGAGEMENT, EXPOSURE, EQUIPPING, and ENTRUSTING to make sure that happens.