By Pastor Craig Pederson
“Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to [the eunuch] the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” Acts 8:35-36
“What is to prevent me from being baptized?”
I wonder how our congregations would answer the eunuch’s question today. Some might say “nothing!” prevents such a spontaneous opportunity presented by the Holy Spirit. Others might want to first get to know the eunuch a little bit more and develop a relationship.
And there may be some churches that are inclined to look for reasons not to baptize a newcomer: “Well, you need to take a three-week baptism class first.” Or, “We don’t do baptism and communion on the same Sunday because the service goes too long.” Or, “We are out of baptismal kerchiefs, and our ladies’ group won’t be making any more until next month.”
Does your church have a strategy for how to invite, welcome, and involve newcomers? Do you need one?
RECENTLY I WAS THUMBING through the headlines of an email newsletter (or e-thumbing I guess) and one in particular caught my eye: “Do Entrepreneurs Need a Strategy?” I often think of entrepreneurs as free-wheeling, risk-taking, innovative, and courageous individuals who will stop at nothing to pursue the dreams that motivate them. But it turns out that entrepreneurs operate as differently as many of our churches do when it comes to acting on new ideas or responding to opportunities presented to them.
Some, like Philip, are attuned to the possibilities of the moment – ready to act immediately and adjust to the results as they go along. Others are more selective and deliberate; they may take a risk on a new initiative, but they have developed a strategy for how to move that initiative forward as conditions and results change.
Churches can sometimes find it hard to be entrepreneurial and innovative in the face of the many demands they juggle: Financial pressures, decreasing and/or overextended members, building needs, etc. To imagine how you might do things differently, or to strategize about new ideas and opportunities, gets pushed down the list of “to dos” in order to deal with more urgent matters (or at least those that feel more urgent).
Two points offered for ongoing consideration:
- There is no singular “right” way to do innovation in ministry. The culture of your church may dictate whether you are spontaneous or structured. The challenge, however, is not to let your prevailing culture prevent you from exploring and seizing new ways to share the love of Christ.
- If financial resources prevent you from imagining new possibilities, the synod is now inviting proposals for “Ministry Imagination Grants” of $2,000 – $25,000 that can help your congregation witness to Christ in new or expanded ways.
In this season of resurrection, new life and new possibilities for ministry are all around us. Let us respond with courage and creativity for the sake of the gospel!