Tip: Keep It Simple.
Sometimes life has its moments of complication. Decisions. Stress. Relationships. Difficulties. Likewise, ministry has its moments of complication.
Some moments of complication can't be avoided. Relationship. Counseling. Caring for students. While we love it, it can be a complex course to navigate as we deal with personalities and conditions that we can't control. But a lot of the complication we deal with we create.
Scheduling conflicts. Overbooked calendars. Miscommunication. Over programming. Over committments. Too much structure. Complicated ministry strategies. Lack of help and leadership. In many cases we create the complexity by going over board in areas of our ministry that shouldn't be complicated.
For example. There was a season in my ministry, a number of years ago where I was over doing it. I was teaching four different studies. I had our Sunday morning high school class and our Sunday night youth group. Then there was the mid-week Bible study and an adult study that we sponsored every other Friday night as part of our family ministry. Along with teaching there were still the administrative needs, promotional responsibilities, and other "ministry" related items that fell under the umbrella of "youth pastor." And on top of all of that, I was taking a class at the local seminary.
Ministry shouldn't be that complicated. But it was because I made it that way. I found my self building this massive ministry that tried to include anyone while attempting to meet the needs of everyone. I built a complex system of programs and activities that were suppose help change students lives. But really all that the complexity did was make me really tired at the end of the day.
Now as a church planter serving as lead pastor and youth pastor, I find myself again looking at the threat of complicated ministry. Only four months into our inaugural year, I am being reminded that ministry isn't about the systems and programs as much as it is keeping ministry simple.
Yes, ministry can be, and should...SIMPLE.
What is simple?
Meeting a student for coffee and conversation. Having lunch with a volunteer leader. Praying with a parent over the phone because their teen was just in a bad situation. These are simple things.
Working your teaching schedule to teach the same thing instead of fourteen. Or better, enlisting your volunteers to help with teaching responsibilities makes ministry simple.
Taking control of your calendar and learning how to prioritize and manage your time makes your life simple.
Being able to say "No." when it's appropriate makes ministry simple.
I've been reading a helpful book called, Simple Church. The point of the book is that ministry should be simple and how we minister should be simple. For instance, our goal is to see the lives of students radically transformed for the glory of God. How does that happen? It happens as God transforms the heart of the student. How does that happen? By allowing God to use our ministry to move the student through a process of strategic ministry programs designed to accomplish a specific purpose.
We want to see four things happen in a students life. Step 1. We want to see them be introduced to the love and grace of God. Step 2. We want them to connect with the body of Christ through a small group ministry. Step 3. We want to see them use their God-given gifts to serve others around them. Step 4. We want their lives to become lives of worship and honor as they live for God.
Our goal is to move each student through our four points so that they grow in their faith and relationship with God. To help us accomplish this we are creating a SIMPLE ministry strategy. For Step 1. We host our weekend gathings where student can come, bring their friends, and have fun while being introduce to Christ love through various forms of communication. Step 2. includes the creation of our small group ministry. Every student who demonstrates a commitment to our entry level ministry is asked to join a small group. Step 3. Teaches them they place in the body as they discover there gifts and begin to use them in the ministry of serving. Step brings them full circle as now they are attending a weekly worship and bringing friends, participating in community as a member of a small group and serving the large purposes of God with their gifts and talents.
It's simple. None of the extra, time-&-energy-sucking work that would keep us frustrated.
The Simple Church, is a great book that is really helping me to streamline what God has called us to and. There is more I want to say about the book, but will have to wait for another post.
In the meantime, evaluate your ministry. Is it simple? Or is its structure of complex passage ways that he leave you feeling lost, alone, and burned-out. If you are over programming and over working, you will want to begin thinking about how you might begin simplying your ministry.