DULUTH, Ga. – There should be tension, risk and discomfort while doing ministry work, said Pastor Mark Batterson Wednesday evening.
Too often Christian leaders make the assumption that ministry should be safe. But how can this mindset be supported when 11 of the disciples were killed because of their faith and only John died a natural death after surviving being boiled alive, he questioned.
"I think we need a moment of reality check. I think we made an assumption that ministry should be safe. And I don't think it should be," said Batterson, pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., to a crowd of young Christian leaders at the Catalyst conference.
Citing Matthew 10:16 ("I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves"), Batterson challenged Christian leaders to examine the verse and determine if that sounded like Jesus was sending his followers to a comfortable ministry.
"I'm not suggesting that we necessarily put ourselves in physical danger, because we live in a very different time and period and place," said the pastor, who is known for using movie theaters as church space. "But should there not be an element of danger to our ministry?"
"Maybe it is a vision beyond your ability to accomplish. Isn't it dangerous to risk your reputation?"
Batterson spoke to hundreds of Christians at an evening session Wednesday, the day prior to the official opening day of Catalyst. He tied his message to the conference's theme: "The tension is good."
The D.C. pastor said tension is good because Jesus told his disciples that they will be sent to a hostile world. But when God puts His people in stressful situations then he will also perform miracles to deliver them. Most people, however, want the miracle without the stressful situation that necessitates it, noted Batterson. But no miracle can result without tension.
The Catalyst event is the nation's largest conference for young Christian leaders under the age of 40. This year, it seeks to challenge its attendees to think creatively and impact society in a powerful way that might cause tension. Leaders are encouraged to overcome the tension from fear, risk, and sacrifice to embrace the calling and vision that God has placed on their heart.
Throughout the three-day event, leaders and pioneers who have made a difference in their communities are sharing their wisdom on how to lead and shape the culture for Christ. Attendees are being confronted with global issues such as human trafficking, orphans, and access to clean water and being challenged to make a difference.
Since its inception in 1999, more than 90,000 leaders have participated in the annual Catalyst event in the Atlanta-area.