Instruments in the Redeemers Hand Chapter 7 – Building Relationships by Entering Their World
Robin and I are reading Instruments in the Redeemers Hand with our daughter and son in-law. It has been a really good book, and we feel like it’s exactly what we need for our ministry among the new church planting missionaries.
As we read the chapter for this week, both Robin and I felt like he was describing all the things we did wrong with this last group.
Paul Tripp said this in the opening section of the chapter, “The church is not a theological classroom. It is a conversion, confession, repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness, and sanctification center, where flawed people place their trust in Christ, gather to know and love him better, and learn to love others as he has designed. The church is messy and inefficient, but it is God’s wonderful mess—the place where he radically transforms hearts and lives.”
As Robin and I read that, we realized that we have been expecting these new missionaries not to be flawed and messy. After all, they are coming to us having been commissioned by their churches, having finished at least 4 years of Ethnos360 training program, and approved for church planting. I don’t think I would have ever said that I expected them to be perfect, but we act as if we are surprised when people arrive and they are “messy.”
I have preached it, and even taught it during our orientation classes that God’s love should be the motivation behind everything we do. And yet, as I read Paul Tripps words here, I saw myself. “This is where we can sometimes get stuck. We want ministry that doesn’t demand love that is, well, so demanding! We don’t want to serve others in a way that requires so much personal sacrifice. We would prefer to lob grenades of truth into people’s lives rather than lay down our lives for them. But this is exactly what Christ did for us. Can we expect to be called to do anything less?”
Wow, that’s quite revealing. I can definitely see that I was kindof “lobbing grenades of truth” at people hoping they would catch on, but they didn’t feel loved in how we handled them. Ouch! I thought I was loving them. We know that we need to speak the truth into their lives when we see things that are going to hinder them from being effective church planters. But, the reality is that, the way in which we handled them, they did not feel loved, at least some of them didn’t.
Paul Tripp goes on to describe ways in which we can enter someone’s world and build “horizontal trust” so that we can earn the right to give “vertical hope” and help them to commit to the process of change. But, it starts with entering their mess, loving them where they are, showing we understand and feel their pain. Tripp said, “The first talk may be nothing but venting, but the second talk signifies some kind of commitment to God’s process of change. That is my goal—to encourage the person to entrust himself to him.”
That is certainly what we desire as well. We desire for these new missionaries to see where they need to grow, and be committed to the process of change. I see that we have a lot to learn about loving them like Christ did for us!