Tom Peter’s 1982 book titled In Search of Excellence opened with that truly excellent enterprises had managers that were actively involved with the people employed in their company. Peters noted that in these workplaces it was not unusual to find senior management leaving the office to wander through their place of business to look in on their most valuable asset, their people. They demonstrated care for individuals. The “wandering around” was not seen by their employees as micromanagement, but rather a demonstration of genuine concern for them as individuals. The term Peters coined for this management practice is Management By Walking Around.
In many ways the Church has become isolated, seldom moving out from the safe confines of our homes and places of worship. Think about it. When was the last time you were involved in authentic ministry where the people who need what you have live, work, and play?
I have been struck recently by the similarities between “Management By Walking Around” and the practice of Jesus. As we attempt to identify the various practices our Messiah demonstrated that we should imitate, here is one that is presented for your consideration.
Yeshua met His first followers crossing a river. His first miracle was at a wedding. Three times a year, He walked from His home in the Galilee to Jerusalem, along the way visiting with friends, family, and new acquaintances. He was constantly on the move, caring for others everywhere He went. Along the way He healed the sick and fed the hungry. The people He met were instantly engaged.
This is a practice we should emulate. I’m encouraged to be able to say that I am seeing some examples of this “Ministry By Walking Around” practice that we see in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.
Recently, I was at a Starbucks coffee shop preparing for some future presentations. At the adjacent table, two men were deep in conversation. I couldn’t help overhearing what they were discussing. The older man was teaching the younger one from the Scriptures. There was a lively discussion. I also watched the others seated around us and noticed that some were attempting to listen, in without being too nosy.
John & Janelle Williams have been friends for a number of years. At their home, they hosted the Ten O’Clock Club in the front yard. For two weeks preceding their club, they trained people how to teach a Bible lesson, do crafts (a wooden toolbox), and share the Good News using the Wordless Book, a beaded wristband, and the Evangicube. They prayer walked their neighborhood. They handed out invitations at houses and apartments. During the week, nineteen children attended. Three believed in Messiah Jesus and placed their faith in Him. All week long, passing cars slowed down to see what was happening. The Williams used the Ten O’Clock Club as a kick-start to ongoing neighborhood outreach. They have had some great success organizing evangelistic outreach into nearby apartment complexes.
I’m proud of the church I attend, Wayside Chapel in San Antonio, Texas. Through Wayside, Joyce Velasquez spearheads an outreach to Colonial Hills Elementary School. She has built a team from Wayside members to do after school tutoring, be teachers aides, and run a weekly afternoon Bible Club. This outreach has been blessed with the tremendous support of Colonial Hills staff and the recognition of the Northeast Independent School District. There is a productive collaboration between the school and our local church that has led to a number of decisions for Christ, open doors to the broader community, and demonstrated the glory of our God.
Let me encourage you to prayerfully begin moving out of your normal comfort zone and get engaged on the outside. If you have some testimonies about creative ways to engage the people outside your church or congregation, feel free to share them below.