When my congregation grants me freedom to minister outside our church, they are giving me, my gifts, and even some of themselves to others.
You receive a phone call one afternoon: "Pastor, a group of us in the community have become increasingly troubled about child abuse. A number of leaders in the religious and social service communities are gathering this Thursday night to see what we can do to help. Your colleague at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church suggested you might want to join us. Do you think you can?"
You pause, not knowing what to say, although you're already feeling guilty. In milliseconds a number of concerns cross your mind: Is this a problem I'm qualified to tackle? Do I have the time? My preaching has been suffering, and I've already decided to spend more time on it. But I'd hate to say no to such a genuine need. Besides, wouldn't this be a great opportunity to represent the church in the community? There may be some evangelistic opportunities, as well. Then again, ...1