Friday, October 18, 2013

Vintage CC: Smart Ministry

I've had this post from May 2012 on my mind lately. Obviously the time reference needs to be adjusted, but that's no big thing. The bigger issue I meant to cover here is whether the ministry in which one is engaged is reactionary and rushed, or intentional and thoughtful. The results you hope for usually depend on the difference. I can't say I've always engaged in smart ministry, which is why I wrote this to begin with. I like to think I'm getting better, but not always.

When you've been in the same ministry position for nearly 7 1/2 years, you start to wonder about some things. Maybe you don't start wondering; maybe that wondering just becomes more amplified. Or maybe you were always wondering and you just keep wondering. Whatever.

One thing I've started to wonder about is whether I've been engaging in smart ministry.

What do I mean by that? I don't really know. But since I'm intending to publish this post for others to read I should probably take a stab at it.

By smart ministry, I mean the type of ministry that is well thought out; that isn't done out of desperation or poor planning or a sense that you have to rush into something before a moment is gone forever. I mean the type that gets others on board and excited so that you aren't trying to make something succeed on your own.

I've been wondering lately about my track record in this sense. I've been around the church my entire life and I like to think that I knew some things going in to becoming a pastor. I like to think that by virtue of being a PK, having seen the good, the bad, and the ugly that the church has to offer, I'd have some heightened instincts regarding how to navigate this terrain. Of course, I've discovered that the terrain has changed, and that involves a certain amount of on-the-job learning...okay, a lot of that. But in the midst of such a discovery, people in ministry positions are bound to make some desperate, poorly-planned decisions.

There was the time I hurriedly scheduled a youth event on alternative worship, thinking it would surely begin to galvanize those who think we can or should be doing some different things on Sunday mornings. I initially and unthinkingly scheduled it the night of November 18th, 2006, which was the night of the biggest Michigan-Ohio State game in the rivalry's history. I rescheduled it at the last minute, and it lost what little momentum it might have had.

There was the time I hurriedly scheduled a get-together on a Sunday night for young adults to discuss what sorts of things around the church they'd find meaningful. The particular Sunday night was December 30th. It was quite an intimate gathering.

We recently passed out a congregational survey to gauge what people are most passionate about faith and church life in the hope that the results can somehow be translated into a new mission statement and accompanying vision for the future. There wasn't anything rushed about this. I'm just wondering if it was the best tactic. The jury is still out.

Failure and learning from mistakes is an inevitable and essential part of ministry. Not everything is going to work, not everything is going to inspire people or create desired results. But a certain amount of this is due to not being smart about what you're doing. If you do your homework and are deliberate about what you're doing, there may be a better chance that you'll produce something. There are also factors you have no control over, which may result in retooling or simply learning a lesson and moving on. Admittedly, it may also result in frustration, disillusionment, or burnout, and then you may have other decisions to make.

I don't know what the point of this post is. Really, I'm just wondering how well I've been doing smart ministry. Would this initiative have done better if I'd waited longer or planned it better? Would this program be thriving if I'd taken more time to cultivate interest? Some of this wondering is in reference to things I actually thought I'd planned out pretty well.

But what about those other things?

Did I do my part? Have I done my part?

Have I been smart?