“I don’t know how to find people to disciple.” I hear Christians say this all the time, and I’ve felt the frustration, too. Maybe it’s a problem of overlooking less obvious opportunities.
Meet Barney and Angela. They’re willing to go wherever it takes to tell people about Jesus. They minister to the homeless every Saturday morning in downtown Murfreesboro and, as needed, throughout the week. Barney preaches and Angela coordinates feeding those who show up. Volunteers are welcome to help serve and mingle with the crowd. My friend Darrin calls this gathering his church, and he loves Barney and Angela.
It’s important to mention the unsung servant who initiated the street ministry this couple now operates. His name is Barry Edwards, a local building contractor who started building relationships among Murfreesboro’s homeless population several years ago.
Armed with a bag of biscuits and a big container of hot coffee, Barry started going where groups of homeless men and women were congregating on weekends. Rain or shine and during cold or hot weather, he went to the streets to tell people the gospel of Jesus. His weekly routine caught on, and crowds numbering fifty or more would come at times. I’ve personally witnessed it.
Barry did this at his own expense and without fanfare – all while maintaining a private construction business. Other than the homeless men and women of his “congregation,” very few people knew that Barry was patiently but methodically out there every Saturday morning for years. And he didn’t just preach. Barry became acquainted with those who showed up. He learned their names, knew their stories, and helped quite a few of them get back on their feet with jobs and places to live.
Before you think, “Oh no, here comes another guilt-ridden diatribe,” please know that’s not my motive. Guilt doesn’t produce much lasting fruit, but inspiration can and does! I hope it inspires and quickens something in your heart to hear about ordinary men and women who quietly go about Kingdom ministry behind the scenes. No stage. No accolades. No hype. Nobody is pressuring them to do it, and few are watching. They’re simply practicing obedience to the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:18-20) at their own iniative and expense, because they see value in all people and want them to know Jesus. They are being proactive. Love drives them, not a desire for recognition. That’s the beauty of disciple making behind the scenes.
All can practice intentional awareness. “Hidden” disciple making opportunies are everywhere, but it’s necessary to look; we just have to “see” people. Your efforts may go unseen, but God knows and He will be glorified.
If you’re open for a little extra adventure, try dropping in on Barney and Angela on Saturday mornings. God might introduce you to someone who is longing for friendship and “ripe” for discipling. And, in case you’ve missed previous invites, let me encourage you to visit “Genesis Fellowship,” a Timothy Network initiative that meets at 307 South Academy from 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. every Sunday morning. Genesis was launched for men and women living on the streets, coming out of incarceration, addiction, prostitution, and other tough spots. We meet for a light breakfast followed by a period of teaching and discussion. You’ll be out in time to make it to your regular church assembly. As with the street ministry, Genesis is a “fishing spot” with opportunities for meeting people and building discipling relationships. Contact us at 615-653-6999 if you’d like information about visiting.
Murfreesboro Street Ministry, aka The “Street Church”