Our ministry is people . . .
Well, it was done. Officially. “Cadence International, Ft. Benning, – Koinonia House” was now an actual thing.
Worshipful song had been lifted; Holy Scripture, pondered; Moving poetry, expressed; Affirming words, spoken; Time-Capsule, safely entombed. With heart-felt prayer, every room anointed.
What was left of our day of dedication was going to be devoted simply – but perhaps most profoundly – to the most important part: People.
I watched an Army chaplain’s smiling eyes take in the happy clumps of conversations and laughter flowing through the rooms about us. His elbows were propped on his knees and he casually blew over the rim of his coffee mug as he took in our new home ministry and the people it was already impacting. He nodded to himself before directing his friendly gaze back at me. “It’s a beautiful house, Tim. You and Bobbi have truly made it a warm and inviting atmosphere. I can see this new ministry here at Benning turning into a hub for both soldiers and families. I think the Lord is going to do some great things.”
Another soldier flanking me – part of our little scrum of three – smiled broadly and nodded in agreement.
Deeply touched at their sincere and loving encouragement, I managed, “Thanks guys. I think He is going to do great things.”
“So, Tim, give us the short-answer: How would you describe your overall ministry strategy here at Ft. Benning?”
I chuckled, and carefully continued folding my empty cupcake paper into a little triangle, “You want ‘the short answer’ huh?”
I looked up to note that his eyebrows were arched with humor, but also sincere interest. “Oh sure, it’s a big question. But you have to admit,” – and he nodded to reference the knots of warm fellowship all around us – “the dynamic in a Cadence ministry is nearly impossible to describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it, no matter how many words you use. So, how would you succinctly describe what is at the heart of your ministry?”
“You just want to keep him from preaching.”
“Well yeah, there is that. Have you ever actually heard him preach?”
“I heard him preach for a whole week one day.”
My friends laughed, and I joined in, “Oh sure, make fun. I can take it.”
“Alright, I’ll give it a shot. One of the most important lessons I ever learned about ministry was that no matter how you actually cut it, at its core, ‘Ministry is people.’”
“Okay. We’ll bite. So how do you apply that here?”
“You guys notice the verse my wife posted on the wall in the entryway? It’s our mission’s key verse; 1 Thessalonians 2:8, ‘We loved you so much that we shared with you not only the gospel of God, but our own lives too.’ Those words describe perfectly what is at the core of our ministry: People. Even the gospel that the three of us teach is ultimately about relationships with people. The gospel isn’t about following rules of religion. It’s not about a particular worship service style, music genre, or program. It’s about God, becoming a person, so He could do what was necessary to connect people intimately to Himself.”
My friend’s eyes met across me. “You said he wouldn’t preach.”
“Don’t blame me. You’re the one that got him started.”
“You’re very funny, you know that? You both are. Is it a spiritual gifting?”
“We’re actually tracking with you perfectly. Keep going brother. You’re doing good.”
“Bottom line: the method, schedule, and program will change in a variety of ways over the years. The furniture and décor may change color and pattern. The menu for dinner will vary. But the intimate core of deep relationships with people? That will never change, because at its heart, our ministry is just . . . people.”
“So, you’re saying that it’s hard to describe what this ministry is like, because ministry isn’t a program or a place. Ministry is what is happening right now between the three of us and the Lord.”
“Now look who’s preaching?”
A strong affirming hand clamped onto my knee. “We love you. Do you know that brother?”
“I love you guys too. No question about it. Now, I’m up for getting myself another cookie-dough cupcake while our wives are talking in the other room. You guys in?”
“And if we’re questioned, we can just say, ‘Honey, ministry is people.’”
“Think that will fly?”
“No way. We better make our move before they come back.”