Thursday, September 9, 2010

guest post: Deb on when convenient ministry is good ministry

Last week I posted Deb's confessions on how I want ministry to be - that is, convenient - something I'm sure you can all relate to. Here are some further reflections from Deb, about when convenient ministry is good ministry. I particularly like point 4, but there are lots of gems here! You might like to add your own ideas.

I stand by the thought that I have very sinful attitudes towards ministry at times. However, on the flip side, there are some not-sinful reasons for looking for convenient ministries too. Convenient ministry can be a good thing when:

1. It expresses well the gifts God has given me. I'm not a big fan of "finding your spiritual gifts" - I think most of the time you should just muck in with whatever kingdom work needs doing rather than worrying about whether it fits some spiritual gift inventory you once went through - but it is still true that we are different from each other and have God-given talents in particular areas for the building up of his kingdom. Often a ministry will seem more "convenient" or pleasurable because it is something God's given us a talent for.

2. It allows me to do more ministry. If it can be fitted in well to your daily functioning, it's likely to mean you can do it more often or be freed up to do other things as well.

3. It is convenient because it's about sharing my life. Using your whole life as ministry is great, and if your ministry is convenient because you are seeking to share your everyday life with fellow believers and reach out to outsiders, then that is good ministry. My problem with this has always been that I thought I had to share my life in ways that other people feel comfortable with but that drive me crazy. For example, I think I would find having an "open house" approach to hospitality extremely difficult. I'm not a touchy-feeling-go-with-the-flow kind of person. Some of that is no doubt sinful. But at least for the present time, I'm thinking about ways I can share my life that fit with the flow of my personality, not against it.

4. It means I will do something rather than nothing. If you don't have time to run a 12-week course, do something more convenient. Do something, rather than nothing. I think churches should do "somethings" more often. Little churches burn out their people running weekly or monthly events. Do something more convenient: run a once-a-term women's night. Run a really great youth group night six times a year. Have a one day children's outreach program in the school holidays with everyone in the church helping instead of trying to find volunteers to do it for a whole week.

5. I genuinely want to be there. I've been involved in plenty of ministries that I did grudgingly out of duty. And sometimes you should go out of your comfort zone. And sometimes there are jobs that aren't attractive that we just need to do. And sometimes once you plunge into it, it gets better. But I've tended to see ministry as only happening when I was taking on some kind of burden. And the worst of that is when it has involved caring for people. That's a horrible attitude to take into ministry but I've been pretty fake about "loving" people plenty of times. I need to ask God to change my attitude but perhaps too I need to think better about what kind of task I'm taking on. Maybe I could be reaching out to the other women in my church in a way that I'd genuinely enjoy rather than swallowing it up like a bitter pill.

image is from ingu1963 at flickr

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