In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus ministered to people in many settings and diverse locations.
Thirteen times by the lake.
Six times on a mountain.
Seven times in houses.
Twelve times in town.
And only six times in the temple.
That’s thirty-eight times written in the earliest gospel record of Jesus ministering to folk in places other than the building designated for religious activity.
Do you ever wonder why we feel we must conduct ministry from a church building?
When we “go out” in what we call “out reach” or ministry endeavors today it usually consists of inviting people back to our buildings so we can talk with them about why they should join our group, come to our building, participate in our programs, and help fund our ability to go out and invite more people in.
The problem with this is that we have entered a post-congregational era in our Western culture and because of this people are far less likely to be “congregationalized.” For some, their jobs don’t afford them Sundays off (mine didn’t for the last 3 years). And many don’t want to go through the vain repetitions of listening to very similar Sunday School lessons, singing the same songs, hearing the same three point alliterated sermon every seven days for 52 weeks, because you should be there every time the doors are open. Schedule your vacation for times other than Sunday mornings.
Rather than the voice of condemnation that is so prevalent in the majority of pulpits across America on any given Sunday at 11 am, the overarching story throughout both the Old and New Testaments is one of creation, the fall, redemption, and restoration.
In the gospel according to John, Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” He goes on to say, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for his sheep.” – John 10:10 – It is a picture of a man willing to give his life away for the benefit of others.
In John’s story, Jesus is denied, betrayed, forsaken, prosecuted, and killed, yet he still offered an unconditional love to even those who wronged him.
That is a beautiful picture of how humanity should be. There is nothing, according to the Apostle Paul, and the picture of Jesus on the cross, that we see in John, that can separate us from the love of God. Even when we kill the love of God, He still loves us.
That is the Christian story, and that is the story we should be telling others we see while out and about. That is the story we should be, not only telling, but more importantly, living for those that we have the opportunity to interact with.