Nov. 14, 2016

Outpost Ministry

Please allow me to voice my gratitude if you have remained a faithful reader of my blog over the past week. I am not one to hide my feelings although I am trying to learn temperance as opposed to all-out war, but you know what? We are in a war. A war in the spiritual realm. Many of us stand on the front lines while others work behind the scenes. 

I’d like to talk about “outpost ministry” and “marginalized” people. I want to write from my heart as if I were sitting at your side. If you are tired of the subject or you are tired of reading my blogs about the subject, feel free to stop now. I understand.

Those of us who serve in outpost ministry use our spiritual gifts in the outside world. We don’t teach Sunday School. We don’t sing in the choir. We really aren’t what you would consider the most faithful church member. We typically aren’t important in our church and often are absorbed into the crowd. Most of us choose to be invisible on Sunday but highly visible during the work week.

Outpost ministers reach out to those who have been deeply wounded by the church, doubt God’s existence, have no interest in formal worship but enjoy intimate worship with others, or simply see church people as hypocrites. For far too long, the church has tried to pacify these people by quoting Scripture or chanting, “Nobody’s perfect. That’s why we are in church.” Those who feel marginalized don’t really want our excuses and aren’t ready for our rapid-fire Scripture solutions. They need our love and understanding.

This presidential election revealed a deep spiritual battle. A battle more vicious than any other battle I can personally remember. The only thing I’ve heard compared to it in recent history is when John F. Kennedy ran for President. Because he was Catholic, the Protestant community turned their backs on him believing he represented “false Christianity.” Of course, with time and knowledge, we can’t imagine why that would be an issue in America. But, it was a huge barrier to overcome at that time.

President-Elect Donald Trump, by choice, threw the marginalized into the national spotlight in a negative way. Whether we understand it or not, we slammed the door in the faces of hurting people. Many of us are proud of it and taunt our spiritual superiority. We may not say it out loud, but we say it in many other ways. And, believe me – they are listening and they heard us loud and clear.

My point isn’t to convince you that you did something wrong by voting for Trump. Quite honestly, you don’t feel guilty because you believe you did the right thing. There is no reason for me to try and suggest that you didn’t. For me to do so only causes more turmoil and continues to rob everyone’s peace.

My sorrow really hasn’t been about the election results as much as it has been about the results of the election. My pain is about the damage done that took years to minimize and is now out of control. Outpost ministers are trying to pull the marginalized in as opposed to pushing them farther away. That’s the anger we see on TV. I don’t expect you to understand the anger; especially if you don’t want to understand it.  

I encourage you to find some quiet time to read Luke 10 in an understandable translation. The entire chapter of Luke 10 explains outpost ministry beautifully. We go to difficult places because the marginalized are there. We focus on a totally different goal than most churches. Like the 70 sent out (some translations say 72) and the Good Samaritan mentioned in Luke 10, we willingly step out and move into dangerous territory for the sake of salvation for all. It’s not about comfort. It’s about Christ’s message for all and to all.

Outpost ministers just want to see each soul we know to come to Jesus. We will never be successful if they choose not to be around us. We try to introduce them to the loving side of Jesus.

Please pray for those of us in the outposts. We are in one of our fiercest battles ever. The picture you see with this blog is a wall built by those classified as “marginalized.” Some use ugly words. That’s life in the outpost. Please pray specifically for one of the marginalized groups that were taunted during this campaign season. You don’t have to like them or agree with them to pray for them.  Please…just pray.

At the end of Luke 10, the story is told of the sisters Mary and Martha. Martha was a good church lady. She was a worker bee. Mary seemed a bit more relaxed and sat at Jesus’ feet learning all she could from Him. Jesus Christ said one of these women discovered “the better thing.” It is Christ's desire that everyone find that Better Thing.