Since the summer of 2008 our full-time mission team in Honduras has hosted 50 short-term teams consisting of 500 short-term missionaries. Many people ask, “Wouldn’t it just be better if all those people sent you money instead of wasting their resources and your time?” Our answer is an emphatic no. Money cannot hug a fatherless child or enjoy fellowship with Christian brothers. Money cannot play soccer with drug dealers or wipe the tears from a hungry child. We Christians are called to serve the poor, sick, widows, and orphans. Money can buy food for the poor and build houses for the homeless, but just as Christ touched the leper (Matt 8:3), the poor also desire the touch of a loving and merciful hand.
Ministry leaders are wise to consider the place (and misplace) of intimacy with those they shepherd. Frequently, there is a dynamic of “knowing but being unknown” that occurs between pastors and church members. Each party knows certain things about the other, but there is not a real relationship; there is not an identity-forming intimacy.
It is the role and responsibility of the local church to reach its community. If the church fails, society fails. The world will find a place or community to have their needs me and we must – for lack of a better phrase – compete for their attention. The natural inclination of the world is to chase the world. We must find a way to adapt to the demographic that we are in while not compromising Scripture. It would be great if you could even be multi-ethnic and flourishing from ages 15 all the way to 75, but let’s start with our community context. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a certain school or business (though it could be), but a starting point is to intentionally get to know those within a relatively close radius of your people.
I don’t see too much difference between baptismal presumption and parenting presumption. Both presume that the baptized children of Christian parents are born again. They only differ in when. In the former it’s identified with a point in time; in the latter, it’s usually more vague. In the former it’s associated with water; in the latter it’s associated with parenting.