My main employment history is in the area of retail. I got my first job at the age of 15 (which was not in retail, but in the Circulation Department of my local newspaper), but since that first job I have worked for eight different retail business, either in sales or in management. One of my more enjoyable jobs was working for Walgreens.
I was in their management training program, and generally was the swing shift manager at the location I worked at. When I first began the program, the manager and/or executive assistant manager would leave a "to do" list of things to be done each day. I would bust my butt trying to get that list done each night. Part of what you did was delegate jobs to the other employees...and I was determined to get the list done each night. Each day the list kept getting longer and longer until finally, I just could not get everything done. I went to the manager and apologized to him. He just laughed. I thought, "What the heck is so funny here?" And then he explained it to me. The "to do" list was put up so that the people working the shift would not run out of things to do...it was never meant to be a list that they expected to get done every night. When he would come in each morning and see that the list was done, he would make it longer the next day so that we would not run out of things to do.
I was thinking about this when I was reading Acts 1:1-2 "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving INSTRUCTIONS through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen." (Emphasis added).
Notice that Jesus gave us some instructions...a "to do" list if you will. What was it? You can find it very clearly listed in Matthew 28:19, “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”
Now the list is not long...or is it. This list was given around 2,000 years ago, and it is still not finished. As long as there is one person who has not heard the message of salvation that is found in Christ, the job is not finished. I pastor a small but growing church, but we have not grown enough...in fact we will never grow enough. As long as there is one more person who needs to be ministererd to, as long as there is one more broken heart to be healed, as long as there is one more lost soul to be found, as long as there is one more hurting person to be comforted, as long as there is one more person who needs Jesus our church is not done growing.
But this "to do" list does not just include salvation of the lost, but also discipleship. I'm all for evangelism, but I'm also for discipleship. It is not "either, or" but both...both of these are on the "to do" list that Jesus left. Many churches are doing ok on the salvation end, but poorly on the discipleship end. For too many churches we get 'em saved, dunk 'em, throw them at the wall, and if they stick, cool, if not, oh well, we just move onto the next one so we can carve another notch in our Bible. This is not the way it is supposed to be. Salvation and discipleship are two sides of the same coin.
Even in our little church we have several ministries and programs going on...but we struggle with an ongoing discipleship program...and that means that the "to do" list remains unfinished.
What about you? How are you doing with discipleship? Does that part of your life remain unfinished?
Do we hear the cry all around of us "unfinished"?
The mission field cries out "unfinished"!
The voices of your neighbors cry out, "unfinished"!
Some of your family members cry out, "unfinished"!
Maybe even your own soul is crying out, "unfinished"!
Taking the good news to those who need it...and discipling those who recieve it...that is the "to do" list of the church....how are you doing with it?
So, just how do we accomplish this?
Well, following the example of Jesus is a good way to start, since He is the one who left us the list in the first place. Let's look again at Acts 1:1-2, only this time we will put the emphasis on a couple of other words:
“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began TO DO and To TEACH until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen."
As the Church, we must DO and TEACH. If we want to impact our nation, we must DO and TEACH. If we want to impact our state, we must DO and TEACH. If we want to impact our towns, we must DO and TEACH. If we want to impact our families we must DO and TEACH.
Notice that DO comes before TEACH. I think this order is important. Why? Because people will follow what you do before they follow what you teach. We must "do" the gospel. Share our faith. Care for the lost. Genuinely love them. Too often they become a "project"...and people can tell if you really love them, or if they are just a project. I don't know why we hesitate so much to share the good news...we'll share a sale at Targe before we share the fact that we have been redeemed, sanctified, bought with a price, have eternal life, been justified and recieved the righteousness of Christ...and I'm telling you a relationship with Christ and my sins forgiven beats a 12 pack of toliet paper for 1.99 any day!
And then, after we DO the gospel, we need to TEACH the gospel. The gospel is more than just salvation, just as life is more than being concieved...yes life begins at conception, but it does not end there. The same is true of salvation. It begins with being born again, but it does not end there. We have been given the opportunity to live a life of work and worship of the creator of the universe. How cool is that!!!
So, let's get out our "to do" list and get busy. It may not be long, but it is still unfinished...