Jesus Always Multiplied

brown and blue house on mountain

Jesus’ first recorded miracle was when he turned water into wine. At a wedding in Cana, Jesus’ mother told him that the wine had run out. Then, ordering some men to fill the six purification water jars (each holding 20-30 gallons) with water, the master of the feast tasted a glass and was impressed with the good quality of the wine. He didn’t know where it came from, but the men who filled the jars knew. Jesus took twelve apostles and multiplied his disciples. Jesus took five loaves and two fish and multiplied it into enough food to feed 5,000.

Over and over again, Jesus multiplied blessings for people. And he did this with virtually nothing. In fact, he told his twelve apostles to “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart” (Luke 9:3-4 ESV).

It’s important to note that Jesus told them to take away, not add, resources that could potentially help them in their ministry. Money is generally considered a necessity when serving other people. Ministry can be extremely difficult without it. Shoes and clothes were generally considered necessary for travel. But Jesus told them to take nothing beyond the clothes on their back. The church was birthed out of a need to depend on both God and the goodwill of other believers.

The COVID pandemic has stripped a lot of churches down to bare bones. We can look at it either one of two ways. We can either say that the church is doomed and can’t go on without the resources it once had or we can trust that God will multiply. Already we are seeing some surprising (and healthy) trends emerging from churches that have had their resources stripped away. God is blessing and there are many good things to come!

It’s Time To Be Jesus’ Witnesses in the World

road sign

There are a lot of really sobering discussions on where the direction of the church is headed. I’ve quoted Thom Rainer a few times recently because I think he really has a good grasp of trends in the church. Mr. Rainer hosted a podcast today called “Five Reasons Why the Speed of Change Must Accelerate in Your Church in the Post-Quarantine Era.” It was spot-on. The problems that the church is seeing at unprecedented rates have been festering just beneath the surface for a long time.

Church apathy, sliding attendance, tensions within leadership–these have all been warning signs that things were reaching a tipping point. When COVID hit, it accelerated these problems at a very high rate. Rainer argues that COVID didn’t cause the problems, but accelerated them. So to counter these problems, leadership needs to accelerate change. The days of “easy conversions,” he argues, are over. Instead of merely inviting people in, he says that churches need to be very intentional about reaching the lost.

This is an “Acts 1:8” moment, he says. Acts 1 is the ascension narrative. Jesus was giving final instructions to his disciples. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Not long after that, the Christians faced persecution and were scattered. The disciples had to move out of Jerusalem and had to be very intentional about reaching people and being witnesses to those who had never heard the gospel.

The face of the church is changing rapidly. The question is, are we keeping up?

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash