I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. Luke 11:8
This story arises from a world in which hospitality was a serious thing. A guest could arrive at someone’s house no matter the time of day or night and expect to receive at least one unbroken loaf of bread when they arrive. Regardless of if they arrived unannounced. Regardless of what hour of the night they arrived.
Women in families often baked bread together in common courtyards. And so, in a small town, everyone would know who had a spare loaf of bread at the end of the day.
Jesus is picturing a moment in which someone arrives at your doorstep and you’re out of bread for the day. So, you go to a friend’s house, who you know has a leftover loaf or two, and then bang on the door until they turn the light on and come and see what you want.
The word “persistence” in Luke 11:8 in the NRSV and “boldness” in the NIV in Greek can be translated “Shamelessness.”
Jesus is saying if we’re decent enough to help a neighbor banging on the door in the middle of the night, standing on our front porch in their pajamas, how much more will the God who is your true Friend answer you when come to Him and trust and in faith.
So, Jesus says be shameless in your prayers.
I want to invite you to take Jesus up on his invitation here.
As your pastor of three and a half years now, I want to invite you to join me in praying shameless and large prayers to our faithful Friend. You know everyone wants their church to grow. Everyone.
A pastor who says he is satisfied preaching to empty pews lies about other things.
But I am not going to lead you into a marketing campaign to grow our church. We will not try to attract more people through slick programs or even shorter sermons. But here is what I am calling you to join me in doing: Would you pray that God expands our ministry here at Mountain Heights Baptist Church in whatever way He chooses to bring our way?
Demographically, we are a mature congregation. I don’t apologize for that to anyone. We are uniquely positioned at our stage of life to be a place of restoration and hope to those prodigals who are wandering and wondering. There will come a day when they will ponder where they can go when they are in their pigpen—may they think of us.
There are ministry leaders from around the state and country that need a place to come and be restored back to life. Why can’t they come here to beautiful Buena Vista and spend time with a seasoned pastor like me and sweet people like you and be loved back to life; refreshed to go back to their ministry and impact the kingdom of God for the next generation?
Christian leaders are in trouble. And when the leaders are in trouble the Church is in trouble. Our culture, both inside and outside the church is grinding down Christian leaders.
According to Thabiti Anyabwile one of the pastors of Anacostia River Church in Southeast DC, in an article he wrote for the website 9Marks back in 2014:
50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause.
What if part of our calling here at Mountain Heights Baptist Church were to partner with Lynette and I to offer Soul Care and Restoration to Christian leaders and their families early and often?
In the early ’90s on a large game preserve in South Africa, the rangers began to notice that white rhinoceroses were being killed by much larger animals. Turns out the killers were adolescent bull elephants. These elephants had been orphaned and were left on the reserve to fend for themselves. In the wild, the males herd together and the older and much larger bulls keep the younger bulls in check. Without the older bulls to model adult elephant behavior and the gravitas to challenge the younger bulls—they were doing great damage.
I believe that many younger pastors need an older pastor—a seasoned pastor, a tough old pastor, a scarred old bull—to come alongside them and “be” with them. Lynette and I have felt this calling for quite some time and we are wondering if God might be extending that call to our local church to partner with us in ministering to ministers.
We may not have very many children running around our facility on Sundays, but if this church could take up the call to rescue and restore ministry leaders from around the state and country as one of the major themes of our ministry, think of the scores of children that may be won for the sake of the Kingdom.
Would you join us in voicing a bold, persistent, and shameless prayer about Soul Care for Ministry Leaders that might be a part of our calling here at Mountain Heights Baptist Church?
Christian leaders are at risk, but we are not a people without hope. We have the time-tested disciplines of the Church that are simply waiting to be re-introduced into a modern age. I sense that the younger generations of pastors are very eager to learn from older leaders who value their souls, whether they know it now or not. We have the presence of the Holy Spirit, we have the energized dynamic of resurrection power, and we have wounded healers limping around who are willing to serve Jesus by serving pastors.
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20.
Old bulls walking with young bulls.
That’s me on the left.