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Faith Bible NEXT: Mark 6:33-44

Faith Bible NEXT :: Vision Series Part 2
August 22, 2021 :: Mark 6:33-44

As we continue to explore, discuss and pray through the vision that God has given our church, we come to the first two of the four points today. To engage them, again, we will go to the Scriptures and further examine Jesus’ engagement with His disciples. In fact, we will pick up right where we left off last week, Mark’s gospel chapter 6.

Mark 6 opens with Jesus teaching in the synagogue of His boyhood town, Nazareth. That didn’t go so well and Jesus was limited in his ability to impact the city based on their unbelief. The next verse takes us immediately into Jesus’ commission of the twelve disciples. He gives them authority, equips them with truth and tactics and then sends them out to the villages and peoples of Galilee.

As an interrupting story, Mark then flashes back to the death of John the Baptist, positioned here in the ongoing story as an example of the highest cost of discipleship. Once the flashback is complete, Mark immediately returns to the story of Jesus and the twelve disciples, whom are now returning from their mission. But the saga continues as the group retires to a secluded place to rest and debrief.

This is the background for our text, which begins with “The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on food from all the cities, and got there ahead of them.” Jesus and His disciples crossed by boat, scooting from one port on the Sea of Galilee to another nearby. Wherever this specifically occurred, the large crowds followed and beat them to their restful destination. In the ensuing story, the miraculous feeding of five thousands men, plus women and children, which is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels, we see many truths about Jesus and points of application. But for our purposes, I’d like to focus in on just a few.

1. The whole story begins by Jesus feeling “compassion” for the crowds, because “they were like a sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.” The compassion, mercy, grace and patience of Jesus is the starting point for this story. But the opposite attitude could have easily been seen, and likely understood based on the previous events and context. Jesus could have easily sent the crowds away. The twelve were tired. They needed rest. Likely Jesus too needed rest after such an intense season of ministry. Yet, He had compassion…
2. Next I want you to see Jesus engaging the disciples with a pointed command, even when they seemingly anticipated the predicament of darkness and isolation from the village centers. “You give them something to eat.” With this command, which to the disciples undoubtedly seemed inappropriate if not impossible, Jesus brings the twelve in. The story could easily exist without this engagement, but it doesn’t. Jesus did not choose to take the reins and “make it happen.” He shared the tension with the disciples and invited them in.
3. Next, Jesus sent the disciples to explore what food stuffs could be found. It is safe to say that Jesus could have created bread out of nothing. He did it with the whole universe. He could have used stones or dirt or air or nothing. Yet He sent out the twelve to explore what could be found. “Go look!” This is another story detail that invites the disciples into the moment and miracle.
4. After Jesus blessed and thanked God for the small lunch, He “broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before” the people. “He divided up the two fish among them all.” Yet again, Jesus engaged and utilized the hands of the disciples to do this incredible work. This point is also recorded in Matthew 14:19 and Luke 9:16. John 6:11 places the distribution in the hands of Jesus himself only because John uses this story in a very thematic way, identifying Jesus as a New Moses.
5. Finally, I want you to notice that “all ate and were satisfied.” This is not a limited meal, as was every formal Jewish meal, excluding the ceremonially unclean along with any unclean foods prepared in an unclean way. All were served. All were satisfied. In fact, the people (or perhaps the disciples) picked up twelve baskets of leftovers to confirm the miracle and point to a full provision for Israel (the twelve tribes).

The way Jesus engages and uses His disciples in this incredible miracle event is instructive to His design and purpose for their discipleship. While it seems obvious that the twelve were continually growing in their understanding of Jesus’ purposes and plans, especially His own sacrifice, death and resurrection, their specific place in Jesus’ extended mission to the world seemed to elude their grasp even further than the rest.

The vision that God has given our church - built upon our mission (why we exist), we build generations of Jesus followers who take grace to our world - includes exactly what we see in this text. The invitation of intimacy fosters trust. Trust, in turn leads to more intimacy, which of course leads to more trust. Yet all of this is focused and directed outward, on mission. On this mission, Jesus includes us, develops us, equips us and commissions us. It’s all quite beautiful.

Let me call your attention back to the first two points of our vision. Can you see how these points relate to this text in Mark?

1. We will intentionally enrich relational health and a culture of trust in all levels of leadership
2. We will create a pipeline and culture of strategic leadership development, on diverse levels, for our church family and others.

You might be asking, Why start a vision with leader trust? Is there a problem? Should I be concerned? No, you shouldn’t be concerned. God continues to do great things among our church leadership and we are in a really good place. But, on the other hand, we all should be concerned. We should be concerned because for the leaders in God’s church - not just select pastors, but leaders on diverse levels - there is much at stake.

Think about it this way: in order for love to be received, it must be trusted. In order for relational intimacy to grow, there must be trust. Trust is at the center of everything. It is the one condition of our salvation - trust/faith in Jesus. Faith in Jesus (trust) gets us into the family of God. It is also the way of life for God’s children. Thus, trust - whether in a team, a family or else - is a high level target for Satan. The church seems to be under increased attack over the last few decades, especially church leaders. And while the leaders at Faith Bible Church are currently experiencing a good level of trust, we feel strongly that we must focus on leader health and trust. In fact, we’ve already been doing so for almost two years. And it is within this focus that God began to clarify His vision. So it all begins here. This is vision point 1.

This focus leads directly to a renewed and reinvigorated desire to extend a culture of health and trust to deeper levels of leaders whom we engage with intentional equipping, development, training and mentorship. Leadership development has long been a point of emphasis and vision for us, but we feel strongly that God has directed us to focus on it like never before.

This coming Saturday, August 28, we are taking a really big first step. EMPOWER Leadership Summit is a chance to gather all people connected to Faith Bible who already serve or lead in any capacity as well as those who have a desire to lead and serve. This flows directly out of our recent FaithPath study: Your Gifts, Your Calling, Your Service. So it is really for every single person in our church family. This summit will offer an incredible menu of specific breakout sessions of ministry training and in-depth coaching and facilitation as well as two large plenary sessions lead by our Lead Pastor and Elder Board. But EMPOWER is just the first step.

We are already working on another summit in the Spring to continue the momentum we’ve gained with sharper focus. We’re also working on the creation of specific, ongoing, ministry tracks of development and training for those wanting to dive deeper into things like worship leading, teaching and preaching, student ministry and small group facilitation. We can’t wait to see how God meets us in this vision as we follow Him.

I remember someone saying to me during my student ministry days, “If you want something done right, do it yourself… unless you want to be like Jesus.” Well of course I’d heard the first part, that was the set up. The second part was a bit of a shock and needed some explanation, which was provided.

Jesus, as God, needed no one. He is, and was in His earthly ministry, totally sufficient. Yet His plan to spread the good news of His sacrificial work on the cross, which was birthed before the foundation of the world, included sinful, messy, bickering, flawed men and women. He entrusted the church to people. To us. After we get over the shock of that fact, we realize it is also instructive. We are disciples that should constantly make disciples. We are followers of Jesus that should equip other followers. We are committed to developing leaders because that’s exactly what the Son of God did and does. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Counselor, is busy doing just that in every daughter and son of God by faith.

We see this in Acts 13:1-4.

Group Discussion Questions:
  1. What about the story of the feeding of the five thousand captures your heart the most? Why?
  2. How did Jesus engage the disciples in this story? What was his purpose?
  3. Read Mark 3:13-15. What does this say about Jesus’ intention with the disciples? Why did He appoint them?
  4. What is the relationship between intimacy (or love) and trust? Discuss with your group.
  5. What do you think about our Vision point #1? Do you think that belongs in a church vision statement? Why or why not?
  6. How have you experienced the blessing of church leadership? How have you experienced disappointment or pain from church leaders? What recent, high-profile, news-cycle, pastor or leader troubles have affected you personally? How do you think these could have been prevented?
  7. Would you describe yourself as a leader? Why or why not? Discuss with your group.
  8. Would you describe yourself as a servant? Why or why not?
  9. What is a servant leader? How do we see this leadership style in Jesus?
  10. How are you using your spiritual gifts to serve or lead in the church? In what areas do you need help, mentorship and training?
  11. Read Acts 13:1-4 and discuss the activities of the church and the activity of the Holy Spirit. How do they relate?
  12. As we engage these aspects of the vision God has given us - for the next few years, at least - where are you feeling the leading of the Holy Spirit to engage?
  13. Are you signed up to come to EMPOWER this Saturday, August 28?
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