Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I'll Take the Coffee

From one basement to another. I moved in with Mike Armbrust and his family on Monday of this week. I'm living in his basement with my own bathroom, a pool/ping-pong table, pinball, a piano, a guitar, a 37 inch LCD TV with dish, two couches, a queen size bed, and very fast wireless internet access. I'm really suffering for Jesus. Along with that I am finally getting to hang around some people my own age. Mike has two sons still at home. Wes is 19 and Zach is 18. So it has been fun getting to know them. The other day I went to Toco Bell with Wes and his girl friend. So I was the third wheel, but I'll take whatever contact I can get with someone who isn't married with 2 kids.

On the ministry side of things, I've been going to meetings with Mike and chatting with him about how he got into ministry and the do's and don'ts of church planting. He's got me reading this book entitled Starting a New Church by Ralph Moore. The first part of the book was really good, because it focused in on what it takes to be a Church planter, which speaks directly to my internship, but the last bit of it has been harder to relate to because it's kind of the how to's of church planting, which is valuable but a lot farther into things than I'm going to get this summer. Nevertheless it will probably be a great resource later on in life.

As I continue in this internship I really feel like God is leading me in this direction, and it would be really easy for me to jump the gun. I am eager to get started in some ministry, but I also really see the value of finishing my degree. Mike gave me a good word about this. He's said that it is always good to practice contentment. He said, "you're 20 so be happy being 20. Don't try to be 25 or 30 or 15. Do what a 20 year old should do and enjoy it because you're only 20 once." Basic wisdom, but it's great to be reminded of that every so often.

Today we met with a group of local pastors for prayer. I had know idea what I was getting myself into, which was probably a good thing. We met at The River Church (Mike's church), which is in down town Farmington, to pray for Farmington. I soon found out that we would be walking around the town to pray for it. I was ok with this. I can walk the streets and pray for a city. So we started walking and proceeded to enter a pizzeria to pray for the business and the employees. We weren't going to just pray for Farmington in our little group of pastors; no, we were going to pray for the businesses, the owners, and the employees specifically pulling them into our prayers. We were out to evangelize via prayer. It may sound as if I am against this, which I am not, but it is definitely out of my comfort zone and to be honest I was a bit skeptical of it. It ended up being a great experience. We went into the city council building and met with the city administrator to pray for him and the city. His reaction was interesting. We told him what we were doing and then asked him if he had any specific prayer requests for himself or for the city. He gave them to us and then we asked him if we could pray for him. He paused for a moment, the short silence was a bit awkward, and then said, "well I firmly believe in the separation of Church and State and so I can't ask you to pray, but I'm not going to throw you out if you choose to do so either." We were alone in a conference room. Really, separation of Church and State? So we proceeded to pray for him and then left. We also went into this senior center and talked a bit with the receptionist. We asked her if we could pray for her specifically as well as for the senior center and her reaction was priceless. She had no idea of what to say and no desire for prayer and so she turned to the separation of church and state as well and said that she wasn't supposed allow solicitation in that building. We assured her that we weren't soliciting anything but that we just wanted to pray a blessing on her and this business. "well," she said, "you're welcome to pray in the building if you want, but I'm pretty busy and need to help Ruth. (another receptionist)" So we prayed in there and then left. Then we went to an Edward Jones financial office and talked to John. That was a positive experience. We told him what we wanted to do and he was more than excited to receive a blessing on him and his business. He was a believer. It was definitely and interesting morning. I was surprised and how people were so opposed to prayer. Also I was a bit uncomfortable with one of the Pastors tactics. He was very in-your-face talkative, if that makes sense? One of those types that tries really hard to force conversation on strangers. He definitely struck up a lot of conversations, but I could tell a lot of people were uncomfortable with it and maybe received a bad taste in their mouths from the interaction. I appreciate his heart, but I wonder if that's the best way to bring about believers. Christians already have enough bad stereotypes. It's great to be bold and zealous for Jesus, but it's also important to have a certain amount of tact and intuition when evangelizing. Body language is 90 percent of all communication and this pastor would do well to pay more attention to it. Although his style made me a bit uncomfortable, I could learn a thing a two from him. I tend to hold back and at times I wonder if that's because of a fear of man and looking stupid or freakish. With all that said, I still think it's possible to be bold in my faith and share the Gospel in a zealous way that is personable and nonabrasive. There is a time (usually within an established friendship or christian fellowship, not with strangers) to bluntly ask, "what can I pray for you about," and a time to sit down with a person over coffee and discuss the struggles that life is throwing their way. I think I'll take the coffee. People don't care what you know until they know how much you care. Having said that, walking up to a stranger, giving them your name, and then asking for their prayer requests seems a bit off base. A better route to the same end would be engaging in a conversation and steering the conversation gradually towards the eternal, maybe ending with a prayer using the information that you gathered via asking good questions. Different strokes for different folks I suppose. God works all things for good and those who do not oppose us are for us. So although this was not exactly my cup of tea, God can still use it, but like I said I'll take the coffee.

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