Here’s a short video interview with Laurie Beshore, founding outreach pastor at Mariners Church in Irvine, CA and author of Love Without Walls.
After watching this video I took Laurie’s advice and read chapter 9 of Love Without Walls. This chapter is called, “Oops, We Did it Again.” In it Laurie talks about how their successful, twenty-five year old outreach ministry began to fail to make an impact, and what they eventually did to make changes and realign their vision.
She writes that they had “too many ministries” and that it was “diffusing [their] impact in the community.” She later says, “certain ministries were sliding away from the original vision.” In order to realign their vision and values they eventually had to eliminate “40 percent of [their] ministries and a third of [their] staff.” (132)
How hard that must’ve been. Have you or someone you know ever been through a “realignment” like that? It can be very difficult to handle for all parties involved.
But as Laurie says in the video above, she’s excited about the future. Why? Because of what God showed them.
The second half of the chapter details how she and others at Mariner’s began a “marriage” like relationship with a church in Kenya. The key takeaway for everyone in ministry is that we should, ” no longer adopt the attitude that it was our calling to swoop in and rescue other people in other communities or churches in other cultures. Instead, we were learning that we needed to become partners with them, equal partners in a peer relationship. If we want to be involved in God’s global church, we need to recognize that we are dealing with equals, cultivating relationships based on reciprocity and mutual dependence. Instead of coming to solve problems, we should seek to listen, learn, and then join God in the work he is already doing through our brothers and sisters in Christ.” (137)
Does the outreach ministry at your church have any sort of relationship like that with another church? I can’t say that mine does. Does your church teach the congregation that you are in a “peer relationship” with the churches you support oversees? I can’t say the churches I grew up in thought and acted that way.
It’s a little scary (I hate to admit this) to think that the future of missions and outreach for the church will not at all be like how it was when I was growing up. The paradigms about serving the poor and doing missions work that I have ingrained in my head from years of being in the church are becoming less and less valid. On the other hand, it’s exciting to think that God is doing a “new thing” in outreach and missions and that I get to be part of the generation that witnesses it and participates in it.
Do you feel this way?
I’m energized by a statement Laurie makes near the end of the chapter: “We are more convinced of the truth that we serve best as humble learners, dependent upon God.” (139)
God is good.