[forthright] Shotguns, Rifles and Spiritual Service

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2007 16:41:13 -0500
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

On Tuesday Richard Mansel wrote about putting off
obedience to the gospel. Read how five people who,
in one day, were motivated to make their decision.

COLUMN: Decisions

Shotguns, Rifles and Spiritual Service
by J. Randal Matheny

A shotgun ejects a group of pellets into an ever-
widening pattern. It provides a better chance at
hitting the target. A rifle shoots a single
projectile that must be completely accurate in its

One site, "http://science.howstuffworks.com/shotgun.htm",
describes the difference this way. "With a wider
stream of potentially deadly projectiles, a
shotgun is like using a can of spray paint if a
rifle is like using a felt-tip pen. As long as the
target is within its effective range, a shotgun
will give you a much better chance of making
critical contact with one pull of the trigger."

There are other important differences; this
contrast, however, serves my illustration.
Basically, rifles are designed for accuracy to hit
a precise point, usually at a greater distance.
Shotguns send a spread of shot at moving targets
at closer range. Both have their uses and

Spiritual service may also take a shotgun approach
or a rifle aim.

I've often taken consolation and inspiration in
Ecclesiastes 11:2,6: "Divide your merchandise
among seven or even eight investments, for you do
not know what calamity may happen on earth. ...
Sow your seed in the morning, and do not stop
working until the evening; for you do not know
which activity will succeed -- whether this one or
that one, or whether both will prosper equally"

Or, as the old adage goes, don't put all your eggs
in one basket.

But there's more here than the caution against
losing it all in one swoop. The multi-pronged
approach sees manifold opportunities for success
and positive influence.

If I could, I'd prefer being the rifleman rather
than using the shotgun. I know which cartridge I'd
chamber in the barrel. But time and circumstances
appear to favor spreading out the spiritual
efforts in a myriad of ministries.

So here in Brazil we do not only evangelism and
church planting, but leadership training, youth
camp ministry, children's home board
participation, seminars in congregations on
various subjects, print publications including
magazines, hymnals and books, writing, Internet
ministry, personal counseling, lectureship
speaking, among other things. (I'm sure I'm
forgetting something.)

On the mission field, there are fewer people,
fewer resources, fewer gifts and talents to count

But both approaches, rifle and shotgun, are valid,
depending on the need.

Though I certainly don't accuse them of being one-
talent people, silver bullets were fired by Leroy
Brownlow's book, "Why I Am a Member of the Church
of Christ;" Jule Miller's filmstrips; William C.
Hatcher's book, "Circles of Truth;" the World
Bible School correspondence courses,
"http://www.wbschool.org/"; Gospel Advocate
magazine,"http://www.gospeladvocate.com/"; the
"Monday Night for the Master" program; the House
to House - Heart to Heart"
among a host of rifle-accurate ministries.

Point being: understand the need of your moment,
find your approach, discover your gift, take aim.

And pull the trigger.

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