As a pastor, I have always been passionate about reaching those outside the Church with the love of Jesus. My effort to get those in our church “outside” where Jesus spent His time has met with some resistance. People found it difficult to add one more commitment to their already demanding schedules. They may have agreed with my passion, but they were not moved to effective action. My own ingenuity was not enough. The door to Neighborhood Initiative gradually opened as I gave up my notions of how it should look. It was the Father’s heart to reach those outside the church walls, but my passion for it had to come humbly alongside the work He had already authored and perfected. It took time for God to prepare me to understand what He was doing and I think this is the constant tension for each of us, to continually humble our good intentions and our understanding to do His divine good will.
God has always been the initiator in reaching the lost. It is His work. Look at John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” He initiated this loving act from His throne in heaven. At the beginning of the Church, Jesus said, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about… But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:4, 8 NIV). Being His witness requires the Spirit’s power and direction. We see it so clearly throughout the book of Acts. If we live our lives in the world as Paul did, we must hear the Lord’s voice, move out in His power, and take advantage of the opportunities that He creates.
Lynn Cory, Author of Neighborhood Initiative and the Love of God