Outcomes in Ministry Part 3: Airplane Story & Dunkin Donuts

… continued from yesterday… in honor of Crown's returning Internship students I am posting the manuscript from their commissioning on February 17, 2012…

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3. COOL AIRPLANE STORY: Now, what does every great ministry person have to have in order to actually be a “great” ministry person. Well, you have to have a cool airplane story, right? So that happened to Philip. Check this out: In 8:26, ministry was going along really well, but before Philip had to stick around for the long haul and work the depths of ministry, God called him out of it to do some other cool ministry. Doesn’t that sound great! Before things get tough or before people dynamics complicate the excitement, Philip was called out… I love it in ministry when all you have to deal with is the wonderful fruit and not have to do any cultivating or weeding or fertilizing or pruning or any of the messy stuff over the long haul. Wouldn’t any one want to experience a great ministry and then be asked to be a part of another dynamic ministry?  That’s what happened to Philip:

Acts 8:26: As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he did, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.”

Now I wanted to have a dynamic ministry so I just had to have an airplane story, right? I think it’s interesting that the people we idolize in ministry always seem to have one of these airplane stories, you know, where just happen to sit next to someone and they just happen to get into a conversation and there just happens to be some life-changing moments occur. Now I’m intending to be judgmental here at all, but I just wonder why we here so many of ‘these’ stories… and I wonder if perhaps it’s because that is the only time some of the speakers we idolize actually talk to non-Christians… when they are forced to sit down next to someone on an airplane. We idolize and idealize ministry and ministry-workers way too much. I’d love to hear, and occasionally do hear, stories from ministry workers about how they had a great conversation or breakthrough moment in ministry or relationship or service with their neighbors. Do they have conversations about Christ with their neighbor? I want the airplane stories to still happen… but, you know, that’s low commitment evangelism in many ways. What long-lasting impact does this conversation on the airplane really have on a dynamic speaker’s life? This is part of our idolization of ‘coincidence ministry’… where we prioritize the ‘coincidental’ orchestration of God as a glamorous affirmation of the supposed fruitfulness of someone’s ministry.  Philip just happened to be going down the road and just happened to run into this Ethiopian who just happened to be reading from the book of Isaiah and as they are going around the Ethiopian just happens to ask Philip an open-door question (“What does this passage mean – I’m reading about this man who gave his life for everybody’s sins – Who is this about?). What was Philip supposed to say? “Please let me keep sleeping, man. I’m traveling all the way to Gaza here.”

4. DUNKING DONUTS: The opportunity fell in his lap, so Philip told the Ethiopian about Jesus. And as they are going they see some water and the Ethiopian initiates (not Philip!), “Hey, there’s some water, why shouldn’t I be baptized?” And Philip agrees, “Yes, why shouldn’t you be baptized? Let’s do it!” And there is this great moment in ministry. This story is a testimony to God more than it ever should be a testimony about Philip. This is low-commitment stuff… but we often glamorize the coincidental over the cultivated fruit of ministry.

But my brain manipulates the story and convinces me that this sort of moment is just the kind of moment that should always be happening in ministry if you follow after God and love God and love ministry. This is just the way it’s supposed to work, right?

… Part 4 tomorrow…

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