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June 30, 2016

More Blessed to Receive Than to Give?

By Linda Bergquist

The first twelve verses of Luke 10 are my favorite church planting verses in the Bible. It is here we learn principles such as being sent, going out, teaming with others, discovering a person of peace, majoring on the good news of the kingdom, believing in a harvest, and praying for laborers.

Another missiological principle we can glean from these verses that sometimes it is actually more blessed to receive than it is to give. (No, that is not a typo.)

Jesus told 70 of his followers to travel light.  “Do not take a purse or bag or sandals (vs. 4). He said, “Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you…” (vs. 7) and, “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you” (vs. 8).

These instructions meant that these sent ones were to depend on the hospitality and the generosity of the people they taught and healed. Their missional posture was that of humility.

A Missional Posture

I first learned this principle as a new Christian when I took my first missions trip. I was at an Apache reservation in Arizona when my car broke down. New friends there traveled several hours away to help me find parts. I returned to my home church devastated. The people I wanted to help had actually helped me more than I helped them. I had plans to return a few months later for the summer, but wasn’t sure they would even want me after that escapade.

My wise pastor consoled me. He explained that when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, he first petitioned her to help Him by giving Him a simple drink of water. Then Jesus offered the woman the best gift of all— living water.

Jesus’ example here was one of authentically allowing someone to meet his need before meeting hers. When I returned to the reservation that summer, I found that my new friends who had helped me were warm, open, and ready for me to participate with them as we worked together to start a new church.

We Need Missional Humility

This principle of missional humility has helped me build relationships, learn about cultures, and discover persons of peace for over three decades. Recently I took a group of cross-cultural students on a “temple tour.”  We visited a mosque plus a Buddhist, a Hindu and a Sikh temple (gurdwara). In each place the students were offered the precious gifts of time, food and drink, and the mosque gave each person a Koran.

They were given a meal to eat together at the gurdwara, and at the mosque they were invited back in the evening for the Ramadan meal of breaking the fast. When they declined because of a schedule conflict, they were given a large box of elegant dates. What amazing hospitality, and such a potential entry into a friendship and kingdom relationship.

The festivals of summer in my community offer all kinds of opportunities for cross-cultural and interfaith relationships. One local festival bills itself as America’s largest Halal Festival. (What kosher food is to Jews, halal food is to Muslims.) When I attend this festival, I enter into less familiar, less comfortable “territory.” I am the learner, the receiver, the non-native. If I come in humility, I find that people want to help me, receive me, and help me connect.

The same thing holds true at our annual Indian Independence Day Festival where local Asian Indians gather for a parade and celebration. In both cases, I am part of a minute minority. Women wearing hijabs feel comfortable in their own familiar places, and my presence there means that perhaps my smile means I come as friend. We can make eye contact, we can talk, and we can connect around spiritual things. 

So, where are some potential places of missional humility and friendship in which you can engage? It is not appropriate to go out expecting to receive, but expecting to give— to give one’s self. At the same time, we must be willing to receive from those to whom we would share the Good News.


Linda Bergquist

Linda Bergquist is a church planting catalyst, teacher, mentor and author who has been living and working in the SF Bay Area for 22 years. She works among many ethnic groups, and has a special interest in least reached people groups. Bergquist is an advocate of all kinds of churches and church planting methodologies. She has coauthored three books: City Shaped Churches, Church Turned Inside Out and The Wholehearted Church Planter, and is the author of the Exponential series e-book The Great Commission and the Rest of Creation.


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