Thrown Out, Left Out, or Sent Out?
Part 3 – Sent Out
In Part One of this series of articles, I introduced the concept of three major approaches to occupational ministry change that can be seen in Biblical example and in churches today. In that first post, I wrote about the change method of being Thrown Out. This is a harsh practice born out of arrogance and pride. While it causes much hurt and long-term issues to deal with, God has an incredible way of picking up the pieces and putting them back together when a Thrown Out person turns to Him in complete humility and trust.
In Part Two, I wrote about being Left Out and the issues that come from this approach to change. While gentler than Thrown Out, Left Out still leaves people hurt and disillusioned. Even in this, a consistent pursuit of God can transform a less than ideal situation into something that accomplishes great things for the kingdom. When faced with being Left Out, we must hang on tightly to our trust and obedience to God.
As I finally get around to writing part three, it is with great pleasure that I can say there is a better way! God has used, and will use, Thrown Out and Left Out to accomplish His will rather than allow them to defeat His purposes. It is possible to learn great and valuable lessons through being thrown out or left out, but let me write of a more excellent way — Sent Out!
As I thought about this series of writings, I kept thinking of the New Testament church and how God used these various methods to accomplish the spreading of the gospel. Yet as I considered the New Testament itself — the content of the writing, the planting of churches, and the equipping of young evangelists — I couldn’t help but notice that this one technique had a greater benefit in the kingdom of God for all involved. It is a process that began with Jesus as He implored His followers to “pray to the Lord of the harvest to send forth workers into His harvest fields.” As they did just that, He answered their prayers by sending them out in pairs to carry the message of the kingdom of God. (Matthew 10 & Luke 10)
And then there is the following text from Acts 13:1-3:
“Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”
Here we have the early Christians worshiping God and listening to Him for direction. As they worshiped and fasted, God spoke to them through His Spirit about a work that needed done. Their response is to seek God further in prayer and fasting, leading Barnabas and Saul to be Sent Out.
I love this approach! Barnabas and Saul went on to accomplish the work God had for them through the sending out of them by the Christians at Antioch. They were going with a purpose. Not only did they know that God was behind it — it was a work to which He had called them — they also knew a group of believers were backing them as well. I don’t think we can accurately estimate the power of being Sent Out. The hurts, fears, and doubts of Thrown Out and Left Out are completely out of the picture. Instead, you have strength, faith, and confidence, knowing that you have a job to do that someone else believes that you can do because God has called you to it. We see this as Paul and Barnabas travel from place to place boldly proclaiming the gospel of Jesus. We see it in Paul’s writings as he instructs, challenges, and calls Christian believers to walk in a manner worthy of their calling in Christ Jesus.
I thank God that I have finally experienced the joy and pleasure of being Sent Out by a group of people. It has been remarkable to watch God work to bring about this change of ministry I went through a couple of years ago. In many ways, it seems like the script was taken directly from the passage in Acts above. In a time of worship and prayer, God called me to a greater involvement in prayer with Impact Ministries International. I had already experienced being Thrown Out and Left Out in ministry and just knew there had to be something better. And so I prayed and I fasted. I went to the elders of the Deer Run Church of Christ where I was on staff at the time and asked them to join me in seeking God’s direction and timing for His purposes in my life of ministry. After several months of meeting and discussing with each other — but more importantly, with God — we all knew God was calling me into this prayer ministry and giving them the opportunity to partner with me and see that I was Sent Out well. They responded to God’s leading and continue to stand with me, giving me strength, faith, and confidence to do the work God has called me to.
Sent Out — it is a more excellent way! As you serve others in the name of Jesus, I pray that you are one who is Sent Out. Even if no one else has acknowledged it, you have been Sent Out. Jesus said to His followers — to you and I if we are His followers — “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) You and I have been Sent Out. We have been given the authority we need to share the message of the gospel. Yes, it is much more pleasant when people participate in sending us out rather than throwing us out or leaving us out, but regardless of the actions of people, we are Sent Out!
I pray that you take seriously the fact that you have been Sent Out by God. May He bring healing to you in the times that you are Thrown Out and Left Out by people. I pray also that God will help you to be one who participates in others being Sent Out, rather than being a part of someone being Thrown Out or Left Out. May Jesus be honored as we go about the work that He has called us to.