Ministry Musings: Jesus on Mainstreet (2)

One evening in my first pastorate I asked a small group to name the apostles.  In short order we had done so.  Then I said, “Okay, that’s good.  Now, name the apostles.”

There were a few odd stares, but they forged ahead adding some of the more familiar names to the list of the Twelve.  Again I said, “That’s really good.  Now, name the apostles.”

This time the silence was more pronounced and the stares were more intense.  But they racked their brains and came up with some additional names.  A third time I said, “You are doing very well. Now, name the apostles.”

Kiefer was in the group and he was one of those who was looking askance at me.  Finally, when he could stand it no longer, he said, “Preacher what do you want?  Do you want us to put our names on that list?

And I said, “Yes, Kiefer—that’s exactly what I want.  I want you to put your name on that list.”

He did, and in that moment he discovered the difference between membership and discipleship.  He continues to look back upon that night as a turning point in his life.  And he has given me permission to tell this story—which I have now done for nearly 40 years.

Jesus comes to us and asks us to name the apostles (e.g. Mark 3:16-19).  And after repeating the invitation several times, we still say, “Lord, what do you want us to do?  Do you want us to put our names on that list.”  And he replies simply, “Yes, that’s what I want you to do.”

Everything is different when we put our names on the list.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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