This past week I had the privilege to spend three days with Virginia Baptist pastors at 4 workshops around the state. We spent several hours studying the parable of the Good Samaritan, and along the way discovering more about missional preaching, missional worship, and how to faithfully lead the people of God.
For me, as something of a developing introvert(!), the week was exhausting and exhilarating. I was so impressed and touched by the thoughtfulness, compassion, depth of pastoral concern, and wisdom of the pastors I met. We discovered together that this famous story, which most of us think of as a “back-pocket”, easy preaching text, yields a prophetic call to discipleship and conversion when looked at through a missional lens. As one person said, “there are hurting people a lot closer than a foreign mission field,” and this parable challenges us to see them, to have compassion, and to care for them.
I finished the week with gratitude for the opportunity to share with these pastors, thankful that what I was able to bring to them resonated with their experience and needs. I also finished the week hopeful for the church. To be sure, we live in challenging times for the church, as most congregations find they are smaller than they were in past years, their communities are changing, and the surrounding culture is less “Christian” than it was before. But God’s mission, the mission the church shares in, is no less relevant now than ever. There are hurting and wounded people struggling by the side of life’s road who need the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. If we can join God in caring for them, in loving these neighbors, then we are faithful to our calling as God’s people. The rest will probably take care of itself!