Stop-and-go ministry

sam_s_rainer_IIIBy Sam S. Rainer III

When God guides a church, it’s not a smooth journey. Ministry in a community is stop-and-go. The church is called to go share the only message of hope and stop for those in need.

Many people are aware that something bigger than their personal world exists. They desire to take part in something that makes a difference. In fact, recent research reveals that the majority of churched and unchurched young adults rated the opportunity to meet the needs of others (locally and globally) as extremely important in their lives.

To impact the world, however, God requires the church to stop and go.

The ministry of going

The church’s mission today is the same mission given to Peter, Paul, Silas and Barnabas. We live sent. We live like Christ. The people of the church are described as light and salt, the guide and flavor of culture. In Luke 10, Jesus sends 70 people to an abundant harvest in the surrounding towns. His directive is short and clear, “Go.” Their ministry would not be easy, but they were called to move quickly and impact widely. Jesus made the implications of his mission unmistakable: You cannot go without moving and impacting.

Moving implies that you meet people where they are. The church should be more “go and tell” and less “come and see.” Impact implies that the church changes the community. Our purpose is to make Christ known and to help transform people’s lives.

The ministry of stopping

We hear a lot of church talk about going. Deservedly so, it’s a huge part of the church’s mission. Equally important as going, however, is stopping. And no one better than Jesus demonstrates the importance of stopping. Mark 10 reveals this critical element of Jesus’ mission.

Traveling through Jericho on the road to Jerusalem, Jesus hears a blind beggar named Bartimaeus crying out to him from a large crowd. Jesus was on his way to the cross. The entire redemptive history of humankind was at stake. He was on his death march to save the human race. If anyone ever had an excuse not to stop, it was Jesus at this moment. Jesus did not push forward through the crowd. He did not offer the excuse that he must deny one to save many more. This passage reveals a significant part of Jesus’ ministry in two powerful words: “Jesus stopped.”

In this passage Jesus demonstrates one of the major implications of stopping. To reach those society has labeled the least, we must be willing to put them first. This blind man became a child of God because Jesus took the time to stop and make him the priority.

The church’s mission is stop-and-go. We go to people. We stop for people. We go with urgency. We stop with compassion. Jesus demonstrates both, and we are called to do the same.

Sam S. Rainer III serves as president of Rainer Research (, a firm dedicated to providing answers for better church health. He also is the senior pastor at Stevens Street Baptist Church in Cookeville, TN. He writes, speaks, and consults on church health issues. You can connect with Sam at @samrainer or at his blog,


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