“Phillip was dumbfounded. Jesus had just told him what to do. He and the disciples were asked to feed five thousand people. He even understood why he was to do it. The multitudes had been with Jesus the good part of the day and they were hungry—so hungry in fact that if they didn’t have something to eat, many would not be able to make it back home. Phillip did not lack clarity nor motivation for the mission. What prevented him taking action was neither the “what” nor the “why” but the how. “How will we ever find enough food to feed these hungry people?” Once Jesus explained the “how,” with the disciples help, the feast began.
For the most part Christ-followers today really want to make a difference in their communities and in the world. Whether they are animated by seeing the Great Commission fulfilled in our generation, by loving their neighbor as themselves or redeeming something broken in the world because of sin—trafficking, hunger, clean water, third-grade reading, etc., they do not lack motivation (the “why”) or mission (the “what”). What keeps them from making a difference is the “how.” We, like Phillip, often don’t know how to move the needle. What I like about this guide is that Live Your Faith Guidebook goes beyond telling people what they ought to do or even why they ought to do it, to how to accomplish something great for God in their community and how to build great leaders in the process. Like any good tool, this guide helps the willing become able. And that is exactly what believers today are asking for.
In 2007 Baylor University researchers surveyed 50 congregations asking them to identify no more than three (of the 52 choices) topics that “you would like your church to help your family and other families with?” Here are their findings: “Almost without exception, in the more than 50 congregations we have surveyed…’help in serving others’ is the most frequently expressed need in every congregation…. Every kind of family asked for help serving. Never married adult families named it more often than items like dating, preparing for marriage, and romance and sexuality in single life. Divorced persons listed it more often than reconciliation and forgiving. Widowed families listed it more often than help with grief and coping with crisis. Families living with major stress—financial, health, relational –still want guidance in serving others.” [i] Sometimes as leaders we feel like we’ve done everything we can. We’ve fished all night and haven’t caught a thing and it’s time to call it a day. But Live Your Faith Guidebook shows us there is another side on our boat in making an impact in our communities. It is my hope and prayer that everyone who joins this journey, changes themselves and changes the world around them.”
Eric Swanson Co-Author of The Externally Focused Church, served with Leadership Network and Campus Crusade (CRU)