A Few Reflections on Sunday’s “God at Work” Testimony
Periodically we have the opportunity to be blessed by a personal testimony demonstrating how God is living and active in the life of people through the ministry of our local church. This Sunday we learned how the Lord brought a young man and his fiancé to faith. It began with someone giving her a small book to read and culminated in attending our bible narrative study “The Story of God” and a personal discipleship through the book “What is the Gospel?” In the end, our gracious Lord brought them to see Jesus is Lord of all.
In their heartfelt account we learned that they first came into contact with our church through the unpretentious ministry of our Christmas Carolers during the Christmas holiday in 2010. It was there that they were invited to a Christmas worship service and given a cup of hot chocolate. Four years later he was standing before us sharing the story of their journey to faith. Think about this, it started with Christmas hymns on a rainy night, a cup of hot chocolate and a small in-house designed invitation card. Take a moment to reflect on the many “small” contributions made in each of those components.
Their testimony reminds us that we often see very little of the fruit of our ministry. Paul states, “I planted, Apollos watered but God caused the growth.” By the time gospel seeds come to fruit the original seed caster is often no longer around. But all along the way there were people contributing to the cumulative process in which the Holy Spirit was drawing and illuminating people to the grace of God in Jesus. They also don’t often see the fruit of their watering and many don’t ever even see their contribution at all. I am so thankful the Lord drew the curtain back on their story and highlighted some of the details for all of us.
In light of this, I want to encourage all the “behind the scenes” people and all who wonder if the little gestures and contributions really make a difference to remember the words of Paul.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58
Please consider how you can make similar small but significant contributions to watering the seeds of the gospel in the lives of others. I offer a few suggestions below which I read recently in another blog entitled “20 Ways to be Refreshing in the Local Church” over at The Gospel Coalition. You can find the entire list and post here.
- Greet people on Sunday mornings with a smile. It is o.k. to let your face say that you are “happy” to be at church. Go out of your way to say, “Hi,” ask questions about the lives of others, and listen attentively.
- Visit the widows and shut-ins of your church. Take an afternoon and visit three or four. Sit, talk, listen, and be willing to look at their photo albums—all of them (1 Timothy 5:3)!
- Have a mouth that is overflowing with grace (Ephesians 4:29) and is slow to wander down any other road.
- Show up each Sunday morning with a mental list of three or four people that you are going to find and minister to (Philippians 2:4). Many of us walk into church with an attitude of, “I wonder who will minister to me today.” Nothing can be as drastically encouraging to a local church’s membership than a people united in the understanding that they are there to serve and love one another.
- Don’t rush out of church on Sunday mornings. Be one of the last to leave because you are taking the time to talk with everyone you can (this will be hard for the introvert—but some of the most engaging and refreshing people I have served with are introverts. They wear themselves out on Sunday morning). The football games and lunch will be there fifteen or thirty minutes later.
- Often remind others of the benefits of salvation and the graces that flow from union with Christ. Let it season your conversations.
- Routinely have a crock-pot meal or roast cooking on Sundays and spontaneously invite a visiting family or family-in-need for supper following the service.
- Seek out those visiting the church, get to know them, and introduce them to others. Find connections and be a networker to the glory of God.
- Aim to remember peoples’ names and greet them by name each Sunday (I wish I was better at this, because it means so much to people). The Cheers’ theme song had a point, we all feel loved when our name is known (Isaiah 49:16).
- Get to know the children of the congregation and seek to talk to five different children each Sunday morning (Matthew 19:14).
- Know the Word and season your conversations with it. This isn’t to impress others, but rather to encourage them in the faith. The Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11).
- Write and mail anonymous encouragement notes to members of the congregation. Why are we so hesitant to pass out encouragement? We can never encourage others too much (1 Thessalonians 5:11).