ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.

As anyone who’s ever been to a church potluck knows, food that looks good can taste terrible. The same can be said for our lives, said Kim Hammond, speaking Aug. 11 at the New Church Development Conference here.

Hammond, a Christian Reformed Church minister and pastor at Community Christian Church in Chicago, asked conference attendees if they could taste God in their lives.

“I want my life to count,” he said. “In the end, when you bite into my life, I want it to ooze goodness.”

Although Jesus isn’t limited to one model, people often become prisoners of their schedules, Hammond said. Our imagination gets locked within church walls. But we need to break out and learn how to mobilize people.

How does Jesus do this? He broke the religious taboos of the day to push towards those that others forgot.

“Jesus was fully God and fully human,” Hammond said. “I think we follow the fully God but not the fully human.”

We forget that Jesus embraced, loved, cried and got dirty. If we can refashion our image of Jesus to see that he walked just like we do, he becomes follow-able, Hammond said.

Hammond grew up Catholic and received a picture of Jesus upon his First Communion. In the picture, Jesus looked perfect, and many others carry around such an image in their minds.

“It’s our job to refashion that image into one that we can follow,” Hammond said.

He told the story of Jesus healing a leper. Although Jewish law forbade religious leaders from getting close to lepers, Jesus was filled with compassion and stretched out his hand to touch and heal the man. Jesus could certainly have healed the man from a distance, but he instead reached out and provided physical touch, which the man had long been denied because of his disease.

Restoration isn’t always filled with roses, Hammond said. Sometimes we walk with people through divorces, sicknesses and pain. But we are called to take that walk.

Hammond’s son was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after the family had moved to the United States from Australia. And while he is tired, grieving and exhausted from his son’s illness, he also feels carried by others’ prayers to Jesus.

“God sometimes causes you to be carried,” he said, adding that we must allow others to touch and minister to us.

But how do we get others to reach out? By telling the everyday stories of ministry — the failures, tears and mistakes.

“We have to be the people who become the storytellers of mission,” he said.