DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

We Can Shake the World

Written by: on February 22, 2019

At a funeral I officiated at this week, I told many stories about my special patient Margaret and how she truly touched my life.  I noted that she was a bright light while here on earth, even though she had many struggles throughout her life.  But I shared that Margaret believed that God’s glory is different for each of us – and it’s not ours to decipher.  Her belief was that we must let Jesus define the glory for us or we will miss it entirely. It’s not the destination we should be waiting for, but it’s the journey we should be treasuring.

I found that Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in the Consumer Culture focused not on the journey, but more on the destination.  By that, I mean it was a book that was focused on analyzing the consumeristic aspects of the church and its ‘superficial religious practices,’[1] but not truly understanding the gift that so many churches bring to their communities.  The author noted that parishioners (consumers) were not gaining true faith and/or deeper meaning in their faith.[2]  Yet, I don’t think Miller truly touched on the ‘journey’ of our churches and the progress that has been taking place within so many churches today – stretching more than ever into the secular world to help the broken individuals outside the church doors.  This is a new journey for many churches and brings us closer to the vision that I believe Christ had for Christians and for His church.

In the book, Servant Leadership: Jesus and Paul, the author explores the leadership of Jesus and noted that He carried out His mission in contrast to the current day leadership during His time on earth.[3]  And Jesus’ purpose was always focused on serving those who were suffering and struggling through the burdens of life.  So, it is imperative for church leaders to ask:  who is attending to the poor and oppressed?  This was the focal point of Jesus – and should be our focal point as well.  As the author asked: “What is it that is demanded from us on behalf of those who suffer ongoing persecution, poverty, rejection, and turmoil?”[4]  Without question, it is to reach outside the church doors and LOVE!  I truly believe this is an answer to help us move away from the fear of consumerism towards the gift of servanthood for others.  And I see so many churches today embracing this philosophy in an engaging and positive way.

As Christian leaders, there are so many different components to leadership – and we wear many different hats.  Because of this, it is often difficult to focus on the broken individuals and their needs when there is a whole church family to help and support.  I know I felt this responsibility when I served as a director of various non-profit organizations in my community.  I wanted to save the world, but I found that I often felt like a failure, because I would sometimes miss the needs of individuals as I was focusing on running a major entity.  Yet, as leaders, we do the best we can and strive to truly make a difference.  That’s what it is all about!

I think one of the things I love so much about Hospice Chaplaincy is that I have no other responsibilities than loving on hurting individuals – one at a time.  Yet, I am truly only touching one individual at a time instead of reaching the masses as so many church leaders do.  Is it really enough?  I don’t know, but I do know that, for that one person at any one given moment in time – we can make a difference.  So that is what fulfills me.  I look at it like the little boy who was surrounded by thousands of clams on the seashore and he was throwing one clam at a time back into the ocean.  As an old man passes, he says, “Hey, boy, you’re not really making a difference.  There are thousands of clams dying on the shore here.”  But as the little boy throws another clam into the water, he said, “Maybe so, but I do know I just made a difference to HIM!”

Sometimes, we just need to reach out where we can and realize that we can’t change the whole world, but we can make a difference….to one individual at a time!  As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”  So, in our own gentle way, through our churches and individually, let’s continue to work towards shaking the world!

[1] Vincent J. Miller, Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture (London: Continuum, 2005).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Efran Agosto, Servant Leadership: Jesus and Paul (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2005).

[4] Ibid.

About the Author


Nancy VanderRoest

Nancy is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and fulfills God's calling on her life by serving as a Chaplain & Counselor with Hospice. In her spare time, Nancy works with the anti-human trafficking coalition in her local community.

10 responses to “We Can Shake the World”

  1. mm Mary Mims says:

    Nancy, you are making an interesting point, one that I try to impress on those serving the youngest children. Love is what makes a difference. Children do not care about our theology, no matter how good it is. And though I want to make sure the children are taught correctly, I tell everyone that teaches children they will remember the love that is shown most. Bless you, for what you do Nancy, and for sharing the blessings bestowed on you by those nearest to seeing Jesus.

    • mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thank you, Mary. And bless you for your work with youth of today. Extra ‘perks’ are awaiting you in Heaven, no doubt!

  2. Mario Hood says:

    Thanks for the insights Nancy. I like your take on Miller but I think he would agree with you that in this work that was not the focus he was honing in on. I think he would see it more like Jesus cleaning the temple of those who had commodified the house of God. Money truly does make the world go round but as you stated Love makes the Kingdom of God a reality.

    • mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Hi Mario. I love your statement that ‘love makes the Kingdom of God a reality.’ Thanks for all that you do in your gifting to others….

  3. mm Sean Dean says:

    Nancy, we were on similar wave lengths this week. I hadn’t thought about the “return on investment” that churches provide to their communities. Churches can be incredibly beneficial parts of a community. If only we can get our churches to be more outwardly focused.

    • mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

      I agree, Sean. Congregants WANT to make a difference; they just don’t know how. Churches can be the impetus for them if they would strive to become more educated on community needs….

  4. Thank You Nancy for reminding us that even in the midst of darkness, we have what it takes to make a difference which is love. We may not be able to change the world in its entirety but we can make a difference as the light of the world and salt of the earth. The world may be consumed by consumerism but we should not, we should move in the opposite direction as we use our resources to serve the undeserving of the world. You’re making a big difference Nancy.

    • mm Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Wallace. I agree that the world is consumed by consumerism, but as Christians, we should be set apart from that world as new creations in Christ. We are IN this world, but not OF this world. Because of that, we journey a different pathway than the rest of the world. Thanks for your response, Wallace. Keep doing amazing things, my Kenyan friend!

  5. mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Nancy, Thank you for reminding us that we all can lead those within our circle of influence to make a difference, one individual at a time. This is my challenge everytime I read a metanarrative book like Miller. In their pursuit of macro concerns within their respective argument, they miss the opportunities and wins within daily interactions of individuals and members of the church. The church has nothing to fear within the consumer culture. While the terminology of academics has changed, our pursuit of living the gospel and serving others has not. Thank you so much for reminding us we are making a difference for the kingdom, through love, one individual at a time.

  6. mm John Muhanji says:

    Thank yoiu Nancy for voicing out what should be the voice of the church in a world of consumerism. If the church is involved in the mix of consumerism, then who will speak for the vulnarable in the society? Where is the voice for the voiceless and who will create the balance in the society? Yiu speak of servanthood leadership as the way and I agree with you. Thank Nancy for sharing.

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