Go and See: Engaging Our Communities in Shared Ministries

This past February, 65 people from 20 congregations and mission stations gathered in Springfield to discuss mission opportunities in the region through ministry partnerships. They represented rural and city, small and large churches, pastors and laity, all putting their hands together in prayer seeking ways to engage their communities.

The Gospel of Mark tells us something unique about Jesus’ miracle of feeding 5,000 people. When the disciples confront Jesus, overwhelmed by their lack of money to buy food, He tells them to “Go and see…” what they have to work with. They return with five loaves and two fish.

Together on a chilly February day, people in Springfield looked over their region. We saw people with Jesus’ eyes of compassion. There were so many sheep without a shepherd! Around Springfield, they are not 5,000, but 360,000 who have absolutely no connection to a church. We felt the enormity of the challenge. Our lack of resources to even take care of our own churches provoked fear. But we resolved to “Go and see…” what we have together.

We didn’t scavenge for loaves and fishes. We looked at so much more through a process called “Asset Mapping.” Plus One coaches in the Missouri District use this tool with congregations to help them, “Go and see…” We are tempted to look at what we lack. Jesus directs us to look at what we have. He calls us to bring our assets, our God-given gifts. He does the multiplying.

Luther taught us to pray an asset map every day with Jesus. In the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Luther gets us started with a sample map of “daily bread.” He says it’s everything we need to support this body and life. It includes, “food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home… good friends, faithful neighbors.” Then with three words, “…and the like,” Luther essentially says, “Keep going!”

In Springfield, we uncovered more than a hundred assets among our congregations in just few minutes. If Jesus could feed 5,000 with so little, what could He do with our congregations working together? That day, we prayed a bold prayer. “Lord, use what we have together to reach the first 1 percent of those 360,000 unreached people.”

The kind of mission-driven partnerships that President Hagan has been writing, preaching and talking about throughout our District isn’t about consolidation in lean times. This is about multiplying God’s daily bread in our communities through the partnerships of our congregations and schools—no matter their size. We bring everything we have together for Jesus to multiply our ministries to the needy in our communities.

Join me in praying 10:02 prayers this month. Pray with your “eyes open.” Go and see what your church and area churches have. Go and see the people who are unreached by the Gospel. Bring them in your prayers to Jesus. Expect miracles!

If you’d like to learn more about ministry partnerships and asset mapping contact Bill Geis, at bill.geis@mo.lcms.org.

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