The right tools for the job
When I was a young teenager, my dad and I began the project of building a treehouse near the top of a wooded hill on our property. While I thought this was a great idea, I didn’t have any frame of reference for what a long project it would turn out to be. I envisioned an hour or two of hammering and then -- “presto!” -- a tree fort would be standing tall and strong.
What followed was weeks of carrying materials up the hill, measuring, cutting and installing wood panels. Add to that numerous trips to the hardware store and multiple edits to our blueprints, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever see the finished tree fort.
I think many of us bring the same mindset to our evangelism efforts. In I Corinthians 3:9, Paul tells the believers they are “God’s building” and reminds them of the various people that had a hand in the “work project” of their journey to Salvation. And while most of us would prefer the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” method of instant transformation, I think we all know that the actual process of building God’s Kingdom can be a long and slow-moving one.
In our work at The Encounter, we don’t often see stories of “overnight” transformations. More commonly, we walk alongside young people for extended periods of time as they question faith and wrestle with the struggles of life before reaching a point where they place their trust in Jesus Christ. And it’s not like the work ends there.
While there is joy in the journey, there’s a reason we gravitate toward the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” stories. It’s not just because they require a box of tissues, I think it has something to do with our need to see and measure progress. When we’re in the midst of a building project, it can be difficult to feel like we’re gaining ground. But as time passes, we will inevitably see a structure taking shape and moving toward completion.
We’re thankful to God for the way He does allow us to get glimpses of the progress taking place inside the hearts of the kids here. And we are continually reminding ourselves that The Encounter is not the solution for these young people -- Jesus is. Our program is just a set of tools that enables us to share and point young people toward Christ.
Recently, we’ve been blessed with several stories of people in our community who have found The Encounter to be a valuable tool in sharing Jesus with a young person. These have just been ordinary, everyday people who used The Encounter as a place to connect with a young person and introduce him or her to Jesus. As staff members, we had very little to do with the transformations that have taken place and it is exciting for us to see that others are catching the vision that The Encounter is a place where anyone can do ministry.
My hope is you are reminded today that there are many tools out there with which you can share hope and truth. So, whether it is an event at your church, a program at The Encounter or a Scripture tract, let’s be sure we’re using the tools that are at our disposal to point people toward a life-giving relationship with Christ. Remember, a tool is of no use when it’s left sitting in the toolbox -- we need to pick them up and let them do the work they are meant for. And let’s not forget who is doing the real work in this process.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”
To read two of the stories mentioned in this article, click on the links below: