By Scott Armstrong
I use apps on my smartphone several hours a day. You probably do, too.
Twitter? Fantasy Football? Tracking your steps every day? Yes, there are mobile phone apps for all of those.
But you already knew that. Did you know there’s an app for virtually shaving yourself? What about milking a cow? Or that there’s even an app for nothing? That’s right. It literally does nothing. The screen goes gray…………and does nothing.
Make sure you download it today.
There seems to be an app for everything. There are millions of apps for things I truly have never thought of in my life.
But as far as ministry goes, there are still areas that apps have not touched.
Giving me 26 hours a day instead of 24? There’s not an app for that.
Helping me to fit in seamlessly in a new culture within 1 week? No app for that.
Getting my neighbor down the street to respond to the gospel and see his life changed? Nope.
Many apps help you save time. But they don’t give you more time. Time is the great equalizer.
Some apps help you to learn a language or discover more about a culture or country. But the hard work of spending time with real people and eating their food and beginning to love them for who they are with no selfish or ethnocentric motives? That can’t be microwaved.
I’ve explored lots of apps that provide ways to share the gospel, but no app exists that guarantees life transformation.
The idea of apps is usually to make life easier. They might help us get work done, interact with others, or have fun. Apps are handy ways to directly assist us in some way and streamline sometimes complicated daily processes.
But ministry just isn’t like that. Honestly, it drives me crazy.
Recently I was lamenting to my wife that the local church we planted in Dominican Republic just isn’t advancing like I want it to. Supposedly we are equipped, capable ministers who have been effective in many different places and ministries. We have not just gone to the training seminars on how to impact the city; we now GIVE the training seminars! What, then, is the problem?! Why aren’t all the neighbors we love and care for flocking to service every week? Why do new Christians take two steps forward and seemingly three steps back in their walk with Christ?! On a less spiritual level, why are our accounts always so low and why does the stupid bathroom outside our sanctuary keep malfunctioning?! Aaaargh!
Much of our lives are dominated by apps that help us do things quicker, cheaper, and more efficiently. But almost always ministry – genuine, roll-up-your-sleeves, incarnational ministry – isn’t like that.
I would love for there to be shortcuts. But no app exists for this stuff. The Holy Spirit needs to do a deep work in people’s lives, finances, and even bathrooms.
Lord, quick or slow, app or no app, begin that work in us.