Sending more people into ministry?

Sending more people into ministry?

Have you ever prayed the prayer Jesus asks his disciples to pray in Matthew 9:37-38?

It is worth having a look now: “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”

I know I haven't prayed this prayer nearly as much as I should. And I write this as one in charge of ministry apprenticeships at the church where I serve.

What is so interesting, is that if you keep reading into Matthew 10, you see that the disciples are actually the answers (at least in part) to their own prayers. After telling his disciples to pray for harvest workers, Jesus gathers them, instructs them and sends them out- as the very workers they were praying for. And they were to go make more…

I’ve thought about this for a long time. In fact, one of the reasons I wanted to import Matthias Media to North America way back in 2006 was not only to share the resources themselves, but also the ministry DNA, so to speak. A DNA that is pushing churches and individuals to give more and more of themselves not to their own ambitions but to that of God’s agenda for this world. 

Through some recent conversations and observations, I've become even more convinced that a mark of a gospel-driven church is the growing number of people who are compelled to consider vocational ministry. This also extends to the number of people who may never enter paid ministry, but are still compelled to see themselves as harvest workers- those who really get what Jesus is saying in Matthew 9.

I’ve listened to Phillip Jensen give many ‘calls to gospel ministry’ talks over the years. I emailed him once and asked him, ‘what is the best way to get more people interested in gospel ministry?’ His response was kind and encouraging, but simple. He said, “Preach the gospel”. Even if I didn’t really grasp his point at the time, now I do. And I’ve seen the truth of this work out in my context and many others.

So, if there is anything that resonates with you in my musings on this topic, could I suggest you do the following:

  1. Make a point to pray Matthew 9:37-38
  2. Listen to Tony Payne and Phillip Jensen talk about this topic. In fact, I regularly benefit from listening to Tony and Phillip think out loud together, and I’d strongly encourage you to subscribe (it is free!) to Two Ways News while you’re there.
  3. Don’t miss our recent release, Ray Galea’s Eager to Serve. I’m reading it with a few young men who are interested in gospel work and it is a fantastic read. It is aimed at people considering gospel work full time, but I also recommend it to people who likely will never pursue vocational ministry because the book has an infectiousness to it that I want all to experience. 
  4. Write your own Vinegrowers curriculum - I’m working on this project for our church- to raise the temperature for people to be laborers for the harvest. If every Christian is called to be a vine worker in some way, how are you acting upon that conviction? My friends over at MTS in Sydney often say “you can’t do a ministry apprenticeship unless you have a pipeline to train leaders for your own church.” I’d love to hear how you do this. And if you are interested in hearing updates as we redevelop our pipeline, please let me know. 

Marty Sweeney

Marty started Matthias Media in North America in 2006. Previously he was a full-time pastor and since then he has returned to pastoral ministry (part-time). He oversees an apprenticeship program and small groups at Old North Church. He lives in Poland, OH with his wife Abby and their four children (and a standard poodle named Theophilus). He is the co-author of The Small Group and the Vine (with Tony Payne).
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