Some ministries today schedule an “E-push” where a number of Jesus followers gather to go out to intentionally evangelize a neighborhood or region. An account of this type of event is recorded in Luke 9: 1-6.
Often upon returning the group comes together to debrief, share stories of their encounters and pray and plan for next steps. This may be what is recorded with the disciples in Luke 9 verse 10: “When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida”
However, we learn that Jesus’ plans changed: “but the crowds learned about it and followed him (vs 11). And Jesus responds: “He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing” (my emphasis). And late in the evening of that same day he feeds the crowd, 5000 of them (vs 12-14).
How often do we plan ministry events and plow through with a schedule and goals to achieve, and avoid, discount, or circumvent inconveniences? We detour around the very people we are trying to serve while we strive to achieve desired outcomes and stay on our schedules.
Jesus seemingly glides through these changes in plans with grace. The needy 5000 followed him even though the plan was to “withdraw” after being sent out. We see Jesus in action. He “welcomed them”, he “spoke to them”, “healed their diseases” and “late in the afternoon” he fed them a meal. He kept the main thing the main thing, that being people. Not the program.
A missionary friend of mine in China was going to an important meeting with busy underground house church leaders. Along the way she saw a man laying naked in the gutter. As the bus passed him she felt compelled to get out to help him. She did and missed the meeting. Later this man became a key bible translator for an unreached people group.
Let’s not have our faith be about programs, productions, meetings and numbers. Let’s slow down, and focus on people and be attentive to the crowds and the leading of the Spirit, not our agendas. Jesus modeled this – let’s imitate him.