THE CURATE’S EGG
Rob Imberger gets people to talk about Jesus.
By far the highlight of my move to Bendigo thus far has been the opportunity to share the gospel with at least five people, none of whom I had previous relationships with. Yes, you may have thought it was the search for decent coffee (see previous column), but no, I have more high-minded and spiritual-sounding aspirations now! (That, and I already found my new coffee haunt within four days).
Anyway: this gospel-sharing has been so exciting, sparking a burning fire that all of these people come to know Christ. Two of these opportunities have arisen out of infant baptism visits, which is (if you’ll allow me to wear my heart on my sleeve) the most convincing reason why churches should offer infant baptism: not to get the babies talking about Jesus but to get their parents talking about Jesus. I’m reading through the Gospel of Mark with one particular family, an outcome neither they nor I could ever have envisaged after our first unremarkable visit. God is good!
Other gospel opportunities have arisen by the by and, as the new kid on the block, it’s frankly easier to be blunt and forthright: I have no bridges built to burn! (I’m only half-joking). I suppose the upshot of all this is Praise God for the awesome privilege of being involved in His work, through believing and promoting that the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).
Now, some of you might think this is a regular occurrence for us ministers. After all, when the sermon’s written and the pew sheets are printed, have we not all the time in the world to evangelise the masses? Strangely not. If you ask me or your own Vicar, we will tell you that we tread a well-worn but necessary path, much of which consists of doing the ordinary mundane administrivia that in fact enables (rather than hampers) the more spectacular work of saving souls. That’s why you’ll see us, for example, writing emails, finalising rosters, having cups of coffee, taking days off, reading books. All of this, in some measure, helps free us up and be poised for the kind of awesome opportunities I’ve had of late.
Of course, we can (wittingly or not) become all consumed by the ‘means’ rather than the ‘end’. When church life gets busy, when people are hurting, when home life is difficult, when we’re tired, the glory and joy of sharing Jesus with people who need Him can be obscured, even forgotten. I know that’s what it was like for me, at a certain point recently in my pastoral ministry: so distracted had I become that I’d not shared the gospel with anyone for 10 months! Worse, I didn’t realise the flagrant omission until I tasted again the sweetness of God’s good news on my tongue again like honey (O taste and see that the Lord is good!, said the Psalmist, 34:8).
Naturally, there are complexities. When the gospel is the stench of death to those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 2:16), you’re going to get backlash sometimes. Plus, there are seasons (usually when God wants to keep me humble) when God uses someone else to make a new Christian, and you just sit back. And then there are people’s expectations of what a pastor/minister/curate/rector is meant to be doing with their time, which can oscillate between the highly reasonable to the highly unreasonable.
Given all this, can you please pray for me, for your ministry teams, and for yourselves: that we would be poised to share God’s powerful gospel, undeterred by distractions and freed up by empowering means? And please can you can pray for those I’ve shared the gospel with in the past two months, that they would call on and believe in the One they’ve now heard about (Romans 10:14)?
Rob Imberger is a rookie minister, with the privilege of pastoring in a new church setting with the lovely folk of the South East Bendigo parish. Rob and Camille have also recently become first time parents, so bring on the coffee!