Day 15: Too Many Mary’s, Not Enough Martha’s – Pastor Jeff Dawsey

Luke 10:38-42 (NLT) “As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

              A few years ago, I created ‘Operation Radical’ for our youth group. The goal was to penetrate the local housing projects with the gospel and continue ministry there. Shortly after, I shut it down and went in a different direction, because this question was asked of me: “How do you expect everyone to make disciples, if they aren’t disciples themselves?”

In response to this, I pledged that we would return one day, but first I would devote to growing those students who wanted to truly follow Jesus and fulfill His Great Commission, and we would go as a team of disciples to make new ones.

This cycle has become the norm in church culture: 1. Invite people to service, 2. Lead people in “the prayer,” 3. Find them a responsibility to keep them busy , and 4. Repeat. I call this the Martha Method.

I’ve often heard church leaders say they practice this in order to keep the people committed to attending church. It’s almost like service for church has been exalted above Bible study and quiet time with God. Looking at America’s churches, I don’t think this method works to fulfill the Great Commission, though it’s genius to fill a building with lukewarm hearts.

There is, however, a better alternative—which often takes more time but—produces sustainable and more desired results. I will call this cycle the Mary Method: 1. Proclaim the gospel, 2. Lead people to confess Jesus as Lord and instruct them on what it means to believe that God has raised them from the dead, 3. Thoroughly grow them in the word and prayer, 4. Allow the Word to challenge them to walk in obedience, and 5. Repeat.

If there’s so much service that people can’t sit under and truly focus on the Word, then we are simply doing too much—as Martha was doing—and not focusing enough on the Word. Yes, she was doing it for Jesus, but we need to remember that Jesus doesn’t need our help as much as we need His!

According to a 2019 LifeWay Research survey, only 32% of Protestant churchgoers read their Bible regularly. This means over 65% of the people in churches across the country know very little about God, but they are “serving” Him…? I’d rather believers do little during a church service, as they grow in their knowledge of God. And, as history shows us, the ones who will be gripped by the Word, will respond in obedience to His commands. This way, we will have believers who will not only be serving God, but they will know Him and will know why they are doing what they’re doing. Let’s go away from the Martha-mentality of doing 100 things to serve God, and let’s begin to develop more Marys who will fall in love with Jesus’ Word and respond to Him in obedience.


Pastor Jeff

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