Having just returned from a three day leadership conference, I am truly confused, in a good way.
I feel a shift in my focus coming, a turn from the easy path that I have been on towards a harder and steeper trail.
I am not so naive as to think that stepping from the background to the front line of ministry is going to be easy on me or my family. However I am going in with my eyes wide open.
I have seen the toll it can take on people. They start off with a head of steam and a Devil may care attitude only to burn out. They get discouraged, they find themselves doing all the work, the get beaten up by those inside the church. They try hard, fail, and give up.
It's easy to spot them in any church, they are the ones who sit quietly towards the back of the church and sing with little emotion in their voice, they roll their eyes when the pastor announces a new ministry or outreach. They've been there and still have the scars from their attempt at doing what they thought would be a fun meaningful ministry.
The one thing I took away from this conference is effective ministry is messy. I am not expecting perfection, loads of support or even agreement, what I do expect is hard work, long hours and more that a few heartbreaks along the way.
I am not sure what ministry God is leading me towards, that is the confusing part. I would love to grow our men's ministry. I hope I can start a new outdoors ministry to bring others to Christ through our love for the outdoors, hunting, off road sports, horses, the list is long.
As much as I want to find others to share my enjoyment of the outdoors, there is one question that I will constantly ask myself. Are these activities leading people to Jesus Christ and are we equipping them with the tools to they need to grow in their faith? That has to be the focus.
We have a great message that really matters, so to be effective we must have a passion for lost people.
Fun? You bet, we should strive to have fun at every turn no matter what the activity.
Fellowship? Darn right, reaching out to make new friends is important.
Faith? It will take time for some people to make that commitment, but leading people to Christ must be the primary focus.
Without faith, everything else is just a club. Having a good time and making good friends is not the goal of ministry, it's a by product, it is the result of people caring for one another and encouraging them as they grow in faith. Getting people involved in your ministry is the first step, making them feel welcome and wanted is crucial, but the ultimate goal is to have lost people know how much Christ loves them.
Pastor Ray summed it up in his general session.
Good Deeds leads to Good Will that leads to the Good News.
If you're so moved, please pray for me as I try to get a little closer to what God wants me to be be.