Imagine having to pastor a church (or even teach a class) that had been started by the apostle Paul. That happened to a young man named Timothy, who was left in charge of the church Paul had planted in Ephesus. Think of the comments Timothy might have heard:
- From some of Paul’s converts: “Paul never did it that way before.”
- From older believers: “Don’t you think you’re kind of young to be our pastor?”
- From the false teachers: “Don’t believe everything Paul taught. He has a few things wrong. We have better ideas.”
- From people outside the church: “That new church and its young pastor won’t last long.”
While ministering in Macedonia, Paul received reports about the challenges facing Timothy, so he wrote him a letter. He began with loving words, calling Timothy “my true son in the faith,” and the prayed that God would grant Timothy the “grace, mercy and peace” he needed to carry out his ministry (1 Tim. 1:2).
Paul wrote his letter on parchment – dried animal skin. He used dry ink, made from powdered charcoal or soot, and mixed with tree resin. The finished letter was carried by a messenger some 300 miles by land and sea. It had to be protected from the elements, for contact with liquid could smear and even wash away Paul’s words. By the time it reached Timothy’s hands, the letter was received as a precious gift. Having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit made the letter immeasurably valuable.
Now relate this to the importance of communicating with the people in your ministry. Obviously they don’t live 300 miles away from your church, and you probably don’t have to cross a sea to find them. However, just as Timothy needed to hear from Paul, so those you lead need to hear from you. And while Paul’s only communication option was charcoal on parchment, you can communicate through phone calls, social messaging, emails, and snail mail.
I remember calling Josh one Monday because he had been good in kids church the day before. He was usually so rowdy that I didn’t know he could have a good day. So I phoned him and said, “Josh, I appreciate your good behavior yesterday at church.” He replied, “Oh, OK.” I ended the spellbinding conversation by saying, “I’ll see you next week.”
One day I received a phone call from a woman I didn’t know. She said, “I’m calling you because you sent a birthday card to my daughter, Carrie, so I think you care.”
Carrie and her sister came to church each week on a church van. Her mom was calling me from a convenience store. They had left their home because Dad had exploded into a drunken rage. The three had nowhere to go.
I drove to the store, picked them up, and brought them to our house. From there, I called the local women’s crisis shelter, who had room for the trio. As a result, steps were taken that helped this family get on the right road. And it came from the mailing of one simple card. Communication made the difference.