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Luke 5:27-32 Jesus Calls Levi

27 After this he went out and saw a tax-collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’
28 And he got up, left everything, and followed him.

29 Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax-collectors and others sitting at the table with them.
30 The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax-collectors and sinners?’
31 Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick;
32 I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.’

I attended a Leadership Conference at Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicago suburbs. In one of the first sessions, founding pastor Bill Hybels spoke about the Core Values of that church, and used this scripture as an illustration. He explained that the relevance of the story was not just that Jesus called a sinner – because tax collectors were regarded in Jesus’ day as the worst of sinners. The power of the story was not solely that Levi left everything and answered the call.

Hybells noted that Levi’s response to Jesus’ affirmation of his worthiness was to think of his tax collector friends, a group that was about as far removed from the religious institutions of Jesus’ day as you could be. How could he help Jesus and the disciples reach this group of the most despised and “un-churchy” individuals of first century Palestine? Then Levi devised a plan to make it happen.

In the language of Marketing, we speak of internal and external audiences. The New Testament is full of these examples, though different language and metaphors are used. Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom is full of metaphors for those on the inside of the community (Jews) and those outside. It is clear that there is a different context for the message to be delivered but the same message of salvation for both groups.

As we see the church launched in the first chapter of The Acts of the Apostles the risen Christ instructs the disciples to be “be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, all of Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” It’s clear that in responding to Christ’s call, there is one message of redemption and transformation; but one plan for communicating it all audiences will not be enough.

As you work on your Local Church Marketing Plan, think of this is the context of Jesus commandment to be witnesses to Jerusalem, Judah, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. What is your plan to bring the Gospel to the despised and unchurched of our day? Where is the Samaria in your world that Christ would call you to take your witness? What’s your plan?

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