I tweeted earlier this week: What is the evangelical landscape in Croatia sometimes like? “In those days, Israel had her own king. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.”
What did I mean? Let me unpack that tweet.
Imagine a giant football (“soccer”) stadium. Tens of thousands of seats. A beautiful grass pitch (what we Americans call “the field”.)
And there’s football being played, … sort of.
What you normally see on the pitch during a match is two teams of eleven players each, playing with one ball.
What you normally see is each team playing with coordination & teamwork, trying to control the ball & spacing so that they move the ball into the goal.
But not this time. Instead of two teams working in coordination, the pitch at this particular stadium has dozens and dozens of players. Hundreds of players.
And each one has his or her own ball.
None of them are playing against each other or with each other; it’s all individual effort. Most of them just ignore the other players, they’re just trying to dribble the ball down the field on their own.
They aren’t playing in teams, so it doesn’t really matter which goal they’re heading toward.
But the field is so crowded that very few goals are scored. Everyone keeps getting in everyone else’s way.
Quite a picture, isn’t it?
That’s what ministry is sometimes like.
Croatia has dozens of different ministries, hundreds even, and every one has its own ball, its own goal, its own space, its own support base in Croatia and/or from the USA or other countries outside Croatia.
The pitch is crowded with hundreds of individuals, each playing his or her own game. And there is little coordination, sometimes not even communication, between them.
Good things are being done here and here and here, but there’s no unified movement, no sense of momentum.
Sometimes this tunnel vision is caused by a lack of resources. Sometimes it’s the scarcity thinking, limited-goods mindset that pervades our region. Sometimes it’s the personalities involved, or the history between them, or a tendency to fall out over minor faults.
Sometimes we say, “You can play with me, but we have to use MY ball.”
That’s what ministry is SOMETIMES like. Not always; there have been notable exceptions. Zajedno za Krista (Together for Christ) is one shining exception. There are others, where multiple ministries and personalities cooperate or attempt to do so. I am hoping this year’s Operation Christmas Child is another point of cooperation.
Biblijski institut is making a serious effort to NEVER do alone what we could do in cooperation with another church or ministry. But we fail at this, too. We’re certainly not perfect.
I’m praying for the Holy Spirit to sweep us all together, impress HIS direction on us, and align us to HIS program. Won’t you pray for that with me?