Most of the time it’s good to have a plan.  If you’re starting a church, or beginning an exercise program, or moving into a new career you should probably have a plan.  You should know how much it’s going to cost, how long it will take, who will help you accomplish it, and what the end result will be.  It’s important to set your agenda.

But there are times when you’re better off not having an agenda.  Partnering with God is one of those times.

A critical component of discerning what God is up to in our world involves letting go of our own plans and agendas in order to be open to whatever God might want to reveal.

 

The Disciples’ Lack of Agenda

But is that really what Jesus would want?  To have us go out into the world, into our neighborhoods, into our places of vocation without an agenda?

Believe it or not, if you look at the New Testament, when Jesus sent his disciples out to engage with neighbors he sent them without an agenda.  He told them to visit towns without “a purse or bag or sandals” (Luke 10:4).  They were to stay wherever they were welcomed (cf. Luke 10:7) and to receive whatever was given to them (cf. Luke 10:8).  The closest they came to having an “agenda” was Jesus’ instruction to heal the sick and to let them know that their healing was the result of God’s kingdom coming near (Luke 10:9).

Clemens Sedmak, in Doing Local Theology, states that Jesus taught his disciples that “they should not arrive with ready-made tools and concepts [when entering a town]; instead they should first assess the situation and accept the local quality of life.”

 

​Why No Agenda?

When God’s people go out with no agenda—when we “first assess the situation and accept the local quality of life”—we are able to remain open to seeing people as people, rather than as objects of ministry, and to see the ways God might already be at work in their lives.  This openness helps us engage our neighbors and communities from a posture of learning.  And when we come genuinely ready to learn, that lowers peoples’ defenses and breeds a spirit of openness.

In order to discover the fresh calling of God, we need to be open to whatever God might reveal.  And in order to be open to what God reveals, we need to drop our agendas.

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