I spoke with a fellow ministry worker recently. She was concerned about a new effort they were launching to help feed individuals without homes in an inner-city.
“This vision is totally Christ-centered. The only reason we’re doing this is because we believe it’s God’s plan for us. We want to glorify Him,” she paused. “But, I guess I feel confused because I don’t know how to communicate that in a way that includes all people. It needs to be relevant to everyone in our community, yet not compromise the mission.”
Oh, how well we understand.
It’s social justice, yet it’s Gospel-driven. It gains the attention and approval of believers and non-believers alike – yet also becomes the object of criticism. Are we mobilizing volunteers or commissioning future missionaries? Are we doing service projects or missions? Are we “too Christian-y” or “too social justice-y?”
The beauty of this tension is that sometimes it depends on the person’s viewpoint making the statement. Really, it’s not this fellow ministry worker’s issue. And, it’s not my issue.
Before God, I must understand my calling. That is the issue for which I must take responsibility. Others may not understand, agree, or approve.
Some have said The Bridge isn’t “Gospel-centered enough.” Others have said we are too “Gospel-centered.” The cool thing is that we actually received those two opinions from different churches in the same week – literally. And, you know what? I can understand why each holds its opinion. It depends on what aspects they are focusing on – and thankfully, it’s not up to me to change their viewpoints.
As missionaries in the USA, we don’t have the option of packing our bags and ministering in a faraway land, far from the idea of non-profits, volunteer organizations, governmental grants, and churches on every corner (different denominations, mind you.)
Here, we stand in the middle of it all and proclaim Christ. And, we trust God to hold it all in the correct balance.
So, fellow missionaries and ministry workers in the USA: don’t minister in order to gain approval or acceptance of on-looking family, friends, churches, schools, social groups, organizations, etc. This is between you and God. When you’re in the right place, you’ll likely have opposition on either side.
Christ is to be our focus, our foundation. If not, you’ll be forever pulled back and forth in fruitless attempts to win over each side.