Monday, February 16, 2009

Can I get a Discipleship Sandwich with a side of Evangelism please?

I have been quite confused lately at what I want my next step in life to be. I love working at my church because I have to opportunity to minister and disciple, and I have a desire to continue in my education in the area of theology, leadership, ministry, and community outreach. But as soon as I started my new job at the hospital, I began to love it as well... but for different reasons. Because the job itself isn't very fun (not at all), but I like having a chance to meet new people... people who don't know the Lord. 

The craziest part of my job is when I am required to ask every single patient if they have a "religious preference". We have to ask mainly because of Jehovah Witnesses' beliefs about blood transfusions. We have special bracelets and stickers that we have to utilize if someone is a JW. It is always so awkward when I ask this question because it is preceded by - "So this is how you spell your name?... and your birth date is?... and are you married?... do you have a religious preference?..." Awkward! People are totally blindsided by it! Especially because I have to verify their preference if they already had one - "So, you are Muslim, correct?"

People are almost offended by me asking them this. I have had some great responses. My favorite's are the one's with parents bringing in kids - one parent says "no", my child doesn't have a religious preference, and the other reminds them that they are Catholic. Or the people who just look at me confused and angry and mutter out, "No, no religious preference." I love all the "Ummm... I guess I am a Christian" answers. And I get so excited when people exclaim, "Wow! We were just talking about that!" It is absolutely amazing to me how many people know absolutely nothing about religion or God. There are so many lost people out there! 

God just sets me up for conversations through my job. Not only are these people obviously thinking of death, because death happens in hospitals, but then I am this random person asking about what they think about God (implying Heaven and Hell), as they lay on a gurney. I have already had so many conversations with people about religion, and God - not only patients, but my co-workers too. Just the other night I had a conversation with a co-worker and she was telling me how her son is really involved in youth group, and how he tries to get her to come to his church. As I talked with her, I thought to myself how her son and his friends/pastor probably pray for Christians to witness to his mom at work, just like I pray for my family (I'm totally crying while writing this.... what a great opportunity to be used by God)! I love being a listening ear for people as they want to tell their stories. I always leave SO pumped up for the Gospel and evangelism after my shifts at work... it's the only thing that keeps me going. 

After working at the ER all weekend, I start my work week at the church. I know that I am doing good by preparing things for Sunday mornings (where people will hopefully come to know the Lord), and talking with students and other people at our church. I KNOW I am making a difference. But I can't help shake the feeling that I just don't want to be locked up inside a church for the rest of my life. I mean isn't it strange that I work full-time at a church, but don't really want too because I don't get to evangelize enough myself? I am at this fork in the road and I need decide now - for schools - nursing, or theology? Evangelism, or discipleship? Do I really have to pick between these two? Is there room for both in one life? Really, I am asking you - is there? Can I possibly evangelize to this world working at a church, more than working in a secular job? I don't know if I can...

Do I really want to spend the next two years taking grueling nursing classes? I am not a person who enjoys doing things half-heartily and so I have already been majorly looking at nursing programs that are connected to grad programs (nurse practitioner programs) for nursing students as well (why wouldn't I want to be a great nurse?). But then all I am thinking about is the fact that when I am a nurse, I will finally be able to afford seminary (I just love the Bible so much!) Am I just going to be in school for the rest of my life?! 

I almost feel like it would be unfair for me to be a nurse because that is not where my true passion lies. My true passion lies in the gospel... and my goal in nursing would of course be to save lives physically, but more importantly, to save lives spiritually. 

There seems to be this stigma out there that unless we are in "full-time Christian ministry", we don't want to devote our entire being to saving lives spiritually. But I feel as if my work as a "full-time Christian worker" is spent more dealing with people who have already been saved. Actually, honestly, I feel as if ALL my time is spent dealing with people who are already saved. And I am NOT saying that this is a bad thing, but I just feel like the gifts God has given me are being wasted. Because I am ready and willing to evangelize every day, all day... but I am not doing that working in a church.  

Right now I am eating a discipleship sandwich with a side of evangelism, but I think want an evangelism sandwich with a side of discipleship. Thoughts?


maritza. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
carissa said...

"I almost feel like it would be unfair for me to be a nurse because that is not where my true passion lies. My true passion lies in the gospel. "

i think that to some extent, this is true of every christian, you know? i mean, i get what you're saying, but if you really think about it . . . yes, i really really like my field in and of itself, BUT it is still not what my life is actually about.

even though i am not the friendly, chatty-chat evangelist type like you are, i think i share some of the same restlessness when i think about full-time ministry. i just don't WANT to be around christians ALL the time; it feels like a waste (for me). isn't the whole reason there ARE a few called to full-time ministry to nourish the majority of us who are laboring out in the world, doing our thing for the kingdom?

and you already know - "ministry" vs. "non-ministry," and even "evangelism" vs. "discipleship," are false dichotomies. especially for someone like you, i don't think it will ever be either/or.

Carrie said...

Carissa! Thanks for the thoughts. Because really, I am seeking other's opinions in this area. It's funny, because when I wrote the statement you highlighted, I totally thought of you and knew that you would have something to say about it. :)

But I LOVE what you have to say about those that ARE called to full time ministry to help nourish those who are out in the world. When you wrote that sentence, my brain exploded with thoughts - is the church doing a good job nourishing? Is there too many nourishes?...

And ya, I do know of my false dichotomies that I stated... but that's just what it kind of feels like currently, ya know? I don't think it will ever be either/or. If I do become a nurse, then in my spare time time I am sure I will be discipling.

Good stuff.

And again, I am reeeally wanting to hear any and every thought.

blythe said...

Carrie, go where the Lord is leading you, period. It sounds like you already know what direction that is....don't worry about what people might think or the effort it takes to get there. it will fall into place.

God gave you the passions you have for a reason, and he may want to use those in a way you don't expect. Listen.

p.s. i agree with carissa: evangelism vs. discipleship seems like a pretty blurry battle- they kind of end up being the same thing, or at least overlapping, don't you think?
You're awesome.

Frank And Lela said...

Carrie- You know my 2 cents on this topic! I will continue to pray for you as you make these decisions.
Love lots- Lela

Carrie said...

Blythe - Thank you. And I think you are awesome as well.

Lela - Thanks for the comment!!! :) I DO know your two-cents, and I always keep that in mind! Thanks for the prayers!

Love you guys!