In doing ministry that is geared toward serving, generosity, and giving away resources, some churches get concerned that they might get ripped off. Many times when I was pastoring I was asked, “Don’t you worry that some people will take advantage of what you’re doing?” To which I would respond, “No, I’m not worried. I know they will!” I think the stats were pretty good that we’d get ripped off. As a matter of fact, I believe that’s a scriptural idea. When Jesus told the story of the farmer planting seeds in Mark chapter 4, there was an extravagance in how the farmer did it. The seeds weren’t carefully placed in pre-dug holes, one-at-a-time, in tight, precisely measured rows. There seemed to be a happy abandonment and not a scarcity-mentality concern at all. The more seed he would fling, the better his chances of harvest. And when you look at the return, it doesn’t seem that great at first. I’m no statistician and can barely do simple math, but it appeared only one-in-four seeds did anything. That’s a 75% rip-off rate. But wow!—the ones that did take root produced crops of thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown. I’d like a bumper sticker that says: “Love `em all…and let God sort `em out.” Isn’t that risky? Probably, but only because real love is risky by nature. I love this famous quote from C. S. Lewis:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable . . . The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is Hell.”
Leaders, you can set the pace. Create a culture of seed-flingers, thrusting your hands in God’s abundant supply of mercy, kindness, forgiveness, grace…and scattering it everywhere. And let’s all agree we’ll get taken advantage of from time to time.
DAVE WORKMAN | Elemental Churches