In Jesus’ parable of the talents, he encourages all believers to fully exercise their faith by investing their gifts to further his work. This includes congregations as well. It doesn’t matter the size of the church, God still desires faithfulness to advance his kingdom. What does a one talent church look like?
Jesus provides everything we need to advance his kingdom on earth. He promised and delivered for the disciples the power of the Holy Spirit to carry out one important purpose… “and you will be my witnessess.” (Acts 1:8)
The same Holy Spirit works for us, through us, and in us to do good works that are pleasing to him.
He shines his light for us so that we can point to the cross.
He shines his light through us, so that we can reflect our new life in him.
He shines his light within us, so that we may go and be his witnesses.
God provides gifts and talents with expectations. He first expects faithfulness which is far more important that accomplishment. Our sinful nature tends to boast about what we do, but our new nature in Christ is quick to recognize that is it God working for us, through us, and in us to achieve results according to his purpose.
God provides the gift of faith and expects believers to fully exercise it. Gifts come in the form of talents, but if they are not exercised, then a talent can shrivel up and waste away.
A few people receive the gift of evangelism, but every believer has a talent to advance God’s kingdom.
It’s not enough to be salt and light, but to become proclaimers of the Light. This is true because everybody receives the power the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of his Word. That’s one of God’s promises. That is his commission for all believers.
As there are many one-talent Christians, there are many one-talent congregations. It’s just that five talent churches get far more attention.
A danger one-talent churches need to avoid is thinking that they need to be five-talent churches to be effective in advancing God’s kingdom. They think that if they can’t do much, then maybe it’s okay to not do anything. Regrettably, the one talent gets buried into the ground and they hope for the best until the doors close for the final time.
New Hope Lutheran Church in Toledo, OH is a one-talent church who is choosing to invest its talent instead of keeping it buried.
This small congregation is down to 15-20 faithful members who come to worship each Sunday. At a recent congregational meeting, their treasurer declared that if things remain the same, the congregation would no longer be able to sustain itself. They may be closing their doors next Christmas.
In response, Rev. Nathan Fager presented to the congregation a message based on the parable of the talents. What would Jesus want New Hope to do if they only had one talent left to give? Instead of burying the one talent into the ground and allowing the congregation to certainly fold, perhaps it would be better to not give up without one last fight.
The congregation decided to become a church that would invest its final talent by receiving training to learn how to actively proclaim the gospel in their community. Instead of comparing themselves to five-talent churches and be without hope, they would be a congregation with “New Hope” and faithfully exercise their talent to help further God’s kingdom.
The doors may close next Christmas, but they were going to put that into God’s hands. At the very least, seeds of the gospel were going to be sown and they were going to trust the Lord of the harvest to use those seeds to advance his kingdom.
Faithfulness is far more important than accomplishment. Rejoicing in God’s promises, thankful for his completed work on the cross, a work of faith means not being afraid to step out in faith to carry out activities that involve verbally proclaiming his message of salvation day after day.
God promises that every Word proclaimed will not return to him empty but achieves what he desires and accomplishes what he purposes it to do. Faithful sowers do not often see results. Reapers receive the cognizant blessings of what somebody else has worked for. We thank the Lord for those five-talent churches that are reaping a harvest.
But here is the thing: God rewards the one-talent church, too.
God is God. He works through the faithfulness of his children. He works despite a lack of faithfulness. God rewards faithfulness by bringing great value to those who are stepping out in faith to participate in God’s greatest work – bringing as many people to heaven as possible.
It’s scary and intimidating being a one-talent church in today’s world. That first step of faith is often the toughest. Investing your talent dares you to hope. It dares you to trust.
I thank the Lord for New Hope Lutheran Church in Toledo, OH.
The name of their church is an appropriate description of their faithfulness in action.