But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. (John 8:6-8).        What does the posture of Jesus signal about our ability to reach the broken?  Based on Jesus’s willingness to stoop, we can consider three significant response to the broken:
  1. “You are not alone.”
  2. “You are loved.”
Why did Jesus stoop, stand, and stoop again?  We can only speculate, but he may have stood just in case some overzealous young Pharisee missed his point and planned on doing some rock throwing. And what was he drawing on the ground? “For all we know, he was drawing a smiley face.  The powerful revelation is that the God of the universe—the only one who should have been genuinely offended, who could have postured himself as judge and executioner—literally lowers himself to her level and becomes her only friend, protector, and advocate.  Yes, he does challenge her lifestyle and asks her to stop, but not until he has postured himself as an advocate.  This is key.  He addresses her head only after he has her heart” (Halter and Smay, The Tangible Kingdom, 45). This is where I see the church needing a new variety of love in the 21st century.  Jesus told her to go and leave her life of sin.   Perhaps our best approach for those experiencing moral failure is simply to say, “We’re going to stay with you through it. We won’t abandon you.  All I want you to do today is keep trying to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  I’m going to stay with you, but right now I want you to keep pursuing the Lord with all you have.”   When someone is caught in sin, the posture of Jesus says we must take the long view of a person’s life and trust the Spirit to do the work Jesus promised would be done.   Paul reminds us in Romans 5:20, “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more!”  
  1. “You are welcome in this place!”
  Most of the time it’s not our beliefs that need to be changed (though they may need to be examined), it’s our posture.  Jesus stooped!   Welcoming the broken will always be messy.  But if church isn’t messy, maybe we have to ask if we are a church or not.  When we stop being messy, we have a bigger problem.   Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.”  That tells me that we have to find a way to hold the integrity of the Gospel while at the same time pursuing the broken.   The posture of caring and listening are the best resources at our disposal to build ministries that help the broken find healing and forgiveness.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. (John 8:6-8).

The occasion was quite scandalous.  A woman “caught in the very act” was drug by her accusers to face the consequences for her sin.  She was treated as an issue, and yet for most of us something deep within the human heart says that people should never be treated as an issue. What does the posture of Jesus signal about our ability to reach the broken? At the conclusion of a recent group bible study on this text, I asked group members to share one takeaway from the story.  One observed, “It is the point where Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground.”  She continued, “As a teacher in training, I’ve been studying how to discipline children appropriately.  One of the things you are encouraged to do in dealing with conflict is make yourself small and get down on the level of a child.”  She said, “In conflict, we usually try to make ourselves BIG – we stand taller, raise our voices, get louder.  But Jesus diffused the situation by making himself small.” Not only did Jesus teach humility, he demonstrated it through his body language.  When he stooped to write on the ground, he gave pause to a tense moment.  He gave the emotionally charged crowd time to consider their actions.  As a result, they dropped their stones from the oldest to the youngest. Jesus had enough confidence, even in sordid human nature, to believe if given the choice, those in the crowd would make the right decision. Jesus gave them the pause to consider their actions before doing the inexcusable.  It’s amazing how completely, Jesus was filled with truth and grace, even for these accusers. I love how Jesus deescalated the conflict with the pause, the stoop.  In so doing, he became an advocate for the broken woman.  Based on Jesus’s willingness to stoop, we can consider three significant response to the broken.
  1. “You are not alone.”
When someone is caught up in sin, the emotion that is most commonly felt is shame.  Shame is a powerfully debilitating emotion.  There is an agony all its own connected with shame. It’s far worse than guilt.  Guilt is a private thing.  You keep guilt to yourself, you swallow it like you do your pride though it eats you up inside.  You say nothing and go on. With shame, you can’t go on.  Sometimes it comes from a family member or those you trusted who won’t let you live it down.  It comes from accusers who says, “Remember what you did?” and constantly try to tether you to your broken past. It comes to the child struggling with an identity crisis who prays intensely, “Please don’t let me be like this.” Shame is a powerful emotion.  It’s expressed in the words of a young adult who said, ““I’m 31 years old and divorced, though I fought divorce bitterly.  I feel as if I’m going to have to sit out the rest of my life in the penalty box.” The first thing we need to say to the broken is, “You are not alone!”

We have heard it over and over – ministry leaders need help! Therefore, we are excited to share with the you the launch of DBministrycoach.com. After more than two years of listening, praying and planning, we are ready to begin the journey of helping leaders with the tools and guidance to propel your leadership and ministry forward. Having surveyed a sizable number of leaders through deep conversations and listening groups, we have heard the cry for help. Quite frankly, we wondered what to do. Though it was tempting to say, “Here is a program that has worked for us, and we will come and teach it to you,” that approach proved to be the wrong one. Instead, we began to ask new questions instead of giving answers . . . questions such as, “What is the one thing in ministry that you struggle with the most, and where do you most need help?” We found out that help was needed in a variety of areas: personal spiritual development, dealing with difficult people, resolving conflict, working more productively with elderships and boards, effectively leading a team of volunteers, and much more . . . DB Ministry Coach is designed to do three things: help you assess the state of ministry where you serve, provide one-on-one mentoring and coaching, and provide help with your congregational or organizational needs. Weekend training events, retreats, and speaking events can be tailored to meet your needs. Our team is made up of leaders who have a proven track record of leadership effectiveness. We look forward to partnering with you to provide the help you need. Please contact us if you have questions, or complete our online assessment, and we will give you a call to consider a journey forward together. David In addition – we will share ministry and leadership insights through our weekly blog posts. Stay tuned for more.