Saturday, November 15, 2008

Obstacles and Opportunities

Nearly all of the people that attend El Oasis de Esperanza have come with some type of religious formation in another church.  Some arrive confused and frustrated in their faith. Others are desperately looking for Truth because they have never had a personal relationship with the Lord. When we have a chance to talk, most want to know what we think about other "churches" or "groups."  For us as leaders this is a difficult proposition.  We don't want to speak against anything or anyone that God is using to extend His kingdom.  

Normally we take a moment to explain in general terms that one of the most important goals of the church is to help men and women make a connection with the Lord.  If any church or individual Christian creates obstacles that in some way may hinder this process, then they fail to fulfill the calling they have received from the Lord. In some settings it is easier to know God. In others in is more difficult, sometimes almost impossible to know Him.  The most important thing is to choose a place to worship that allows us to have free access to the Lord...and for Him to have free access to us. 

We have often told our associate pastor that God has called us to "remove obstacles" not "create obstacles."  He smiles and nods his agreement because he knows that this a priority for every ministry in our church.  

He understands that we have another ministry philosophy that influences the decisions that we make as a pastoral staff and as a church.  While we are called to "remove obstacles," we also called to "create opportunities."  This is one of our greatest challenges as pastors.  Every member in El Oasis has been given special talents.  The Lord wants them to use what they have received to strengthen the church and extend the Kingdom of God.  And yet so many are happy to only "watch" and not "participate."  Sometimes this happens because they really do not want to serve.  Sometimes it happens because the church is structured in way that allows only a small group to have meaningful ministry.  We continue to ask ourselves the question: "How can we include more people in the ministries of El Oasis?" 

This priority must also saturate our preaching as well.  We cannot be satisfied to only share the Truth.  Listners must have the opportunity to respond to the Truth.  If we preach on salvation, people must be given the opportunity to commit their lives to Christ.  If we share on Holy Spirit baptism, then there must be times to receive this special anointing.  If we teach on healing, then we must pray for the sick.  The opportunities created in preaching, must have the chance to become reality for all who hear the proclamation of the gospel message.

1 comment:

toby schneckloth said...

Very good. Too often, I feel that we create obstacles and remove opportunities. Lord help us reverse that trend in the future.