The pressure of the moment was so intense, he felt paralyzed. Only a few minutes earlier, the business owner had confronted him on his deceitful practices. In his haste to accumulate wealth for himself, this manager had cut corners, made deals and engaged in business practices that would, at best, be deemed suspicious. Now what seemed to be a dream had turned into a nightmare. The owner was livid and called him to give account for his deeds.
“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg —” (Luke 16:3).
This manager had spent his entire life pursuing one goal — to become a money manager. But now his lack of character and insatiable hunger for more had sabotaged the dream. His career was ruined. And no one — no one — would ever hire him again to manage their money. Then it hit him.
“I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.”
“So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
“‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.
“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty’” (Luke 16:4-6).
We can guess that as the debtor left, he turned to the manager and said, “Wow! You have been so gracious. If there’s anything I can do for you in the future, please let me know.” One by one the manager met with the owner’s debtors, making selfish deal after selfish deal with them in order to secure his future once his job was gone.
Jesus continued the story: “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly” (Luke 16:8a).
Timeless story with a purpose
Every story Jesus told had a purpose. In this one Jesus contrasted the ways of the world with the ways of the kingdom. “For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light” (Luke 16:8b).
Jesus says that when it comes to how believers interact with people of the world, we miss the mark. Those outside the church (secularists) are much more effective than those inside the church in making the most of their time and opportunity with nonbelievers. What an indictment.
In this story, the manager believes all he has is here and now. So he invests his energy, thinking and resources to secure a better future for himself here and now. Unfortunately, so do many Christians. But Jesus says Christians should think differently.
“I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9).
Jesus asks us to live differently in this world. Instead of using all we have on ourselves in the here and now, he challenges us to invest in things that will impact people in the “then and there.” Invest wealth in things that reap eternal dividends so that one day these people will thank us in heaven.
This story reminds us we are managers who work for an owner, God. And we manage the time, talent and treasure he has so graciously bestowed on us. It reminds us that God has given us a little bit of time and opportunity to advance his agenda in this world, and our work should result in an eternal impact. Finally, it reminds us that one day each of us must give an account of our management of God’s resources.
Living the $10 million dream
One of the greatest opportunities we have to fulfill Jesus’ command to reach the people of our world is through investing in church planting. Starting new churches is still the most effective way to see people come to Christ.
In our 10-year vision we’ve committed to a dream of raising $10 million for church planting. It is part of achieving the four very aggressive goals we set:
Each one reach one — each person will lead another person to Christ.
Each one raise one — each person will disciple another person to their level.
Each one start one — each church will plant, parent or partner a church plant.
Each one send one — each church will send a missionary to a foreign field.
To accomplish the “Each one start one” goal, we ask every church and individual to consider doing two things:
Give generously to your district church planting fund. Every district has set aside funding to start new churches in your region. Converge has one of the best church planting success rates in the nation. Your investment will result in community transformation and many coming to Christ.
Give an “above and beyond” gift to the Converge Church Planting Fund. Converge has established a funding plan to give church planters much-needed initial support. As a part of this plan, with the approval of the district, church planters will receive $25,000 in startup funds. Then, within four years, the church planters will pay that funding forward to start another church plant, perpetuating the funding for future starts.
Join us in investing in these efforts so that one day, then and there, people will welcome us into heaven’s eternal dwellings.
Scott Ridout, Converge President
Scott Ridout is the president of Converge. A graduate of Virginia Tech and Columbia International University, he and his wife Lisa led Sun Valley Community Church, Gilbert, Arizona, from 1998 to 2014. Sun Valley has grown from 375 to roughly 5000 attendees on three campuses under his leadership. Previously, Scott served six years as a Converge overseer, including two years as chairman. He is also a church leadership mentor and will continue his coaching during his presidency.