In a ministry staff meeting, our ministers were doing some self-evaluation using the “APEST” framework from Ephesians 4:11. The Lord gives some to be Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds, and Teachers. As we surveyed the team, most of us were shepherds and teachers. Only one of us had distinct giftedness as an evangelist, and we were about to launch him out into a church-planting internship.
I emphasized that Ephesians 4:11 says the Lord gives these gifts, so if we want to see more evangelism, we need not merely work harder at it, we need to ask the Lord to give that gift. We focused our prayer as a staff team on asking the Lord to send and raise up more evangelists. Then we went on with the work.
The following week, our youth minister asked for some time to introduce me to a man named John Barnard from Middleman ministries. I had never heard of John or his ministry, but I reluctantly agreed.
As John described his ministry of reaching out to kids, teenagers, and young adults in the skating community, I kept thinking back to our prayer for evangelists. Our church is across the street from a skate park the city built almost seven years ago. For seven years, we have tried a variety of ways to reach folks at the park but have had very little fruit. We have tried various ways to build bridges to the skating community. We have this great opportunity in front of us but haven’t been able to connect in a meaningful way.
As John talked, I realized that he has already built the bridge to the skating community that we have been unable to build. He talked about outgrowing his current ministry space and dreaming of a metal building within sight of the skate park where he could host his shop and mobilize volunteers who mentor kids as they teach kids how to use the equipment.
It just so happened that we have a metal building visible from the park where we store church vehicles and trailers. I asked John if we could take a field trip. As we walked to the building, I could see the creative wheels turning in John’s head.
As we talked about other possibilities, we were also able to share a room at our Center that was used to store chairs. John has converted it into a skate shop where young adults can hang out, make their own designs for their skateboards, and talk to folks who love Jesus.
For me, it was a simple equation as to what was the highest and best use for the facilities that we have. Storing items for ministry is important, but not as important as actually doing ministry. Moving trailers to another site in order to make space for evangelism is an easy call. The Lord was answering our prayer for evangelists, and all it required of us was to move a few things and share the space.
It is indeed the Lord who gives all kinds of gifts “to build up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). I am grateful for the Lord’s gifts. If He could orchestrate the partnership between Middleman skate ministry and Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in response to our prayers, who knows what else He will do!?
To find out more about Middleman Ministries go to https://www.middleman-ministries.org