“People say to our pastor, ‘You’ve sent all your best people away to Bible school and seminary and now they’re not even coming back to help you!”
Julie was answering a question about how she had ended up studying at an overseas Bible college. Growing up in a country where Bible school training is officially impossible, going overseas was an act of both desperation and faith. With her home church rapidly growing, the need for more trained workers was obvious. However, all the students the church sent out for training were called by God to other fields, away from their home. But that faithful pastor recognises that God’s work is bigger than his own church and his corner of the world. He gladly supports and encourages them as they go.
The hymnwriter penned, “Give of thy sons to bear the message glorious.” This command speaks not only to parents but also to church leaders. Will we give our most promising and dedicated church workers to God’s other fields? The harvest truly is vast, and the Lord of the harvest alone has the right to direct His workers to the fields of His choosing.
That means when a church member discovers an opportunity to serve God outside of the regular church programme, church leaders should encourage that person’s vision for God’s greater harvest. Don’t feel threatened when a “grass roots” group in your church moves to minister outside of the regular church programme. Unless its activity is clearly unbiblical, rejoice that the people you shepherd are learning to respond to God on their own without your prodding and pushing them along. Programmes, after all, are only tools to structure the ministry in a way that unmotivated people can get involved. A programme can be scrapped, but people whose vision is trampled will become discouraged.
When God leads a faithful church member to another harvest field, be enthusiastic about God’s work in that person’s life. Don’t worry that your own field may be short on workers. We can be sure that God knows what He is doing when He transfers His servants to other arenas of ministry. If we “send all our best people away” for the sake of the gospel, will not the Good Shepherd see what our little fold needs and ensure that those needs are met? He is our all-wise Lord; let us be His willing servants.
“Other sheep I have which are not of this fold. Them also I must bring.” John 10:16