In ministry, we can become so used to a routine, to a plan that has been set in motion, and ministry that happens the same way with the same methods and the same people. I believe in many of our churches the year 2020 threw us off course. But what if this disruption is just what God can use to get our gaze refocused on Him, our desires reconnected with His heart, and our ministries re-aligned with His purposes? The unprecedented challenges we experienced in 2020 could actually serve as the catalyst that provides an opportunity for us to adapt, set a new direction, and cast a God-size vision for ministry.
As we look ahead, we can view our ministries with fresh eyes and move forward in a more strategic and effective way. It will take courage: courage to regroup, refocus and reset. It will also take clarity. Clarity comes when we are willing to step away from the familiar, the expected and the “same” to gain fresh perspective.
With courage and clarity we can:
Regroup our Ministries. Regroup our efforts, our teams, our priorities, our ideas. We might need to consider ways to restructure and reorganize existing ministries.
Refocus our Vision. The Holy Spirit is the key to restored vision and transformational ministry. As leaders, we must continually ask ourselves, “what is my motivation for ministry” and “what are the markers I use to define it?” Read the account of Paul’s conversion in Acts 9. We see as he is zealously on his way to carry out his plans, God blinds him, gets his attention, and refocuses his vision on Jesus. His sight is restored and we see that now his motivation comes from somewhere else. What changed? He became filled with the Holy Spirit.
Reset our Direction. We can mistakenly think that we as the leaders have to create ministry. We can fail to see that the ministry plan is already there – we just have to follow it! God has already positioned the people where He intends ministry to happen. We see a key element of the spread of the gospel recorded in Acts 8. The early church was scattered. God had already positioned the people where he intended the ministry to happen – before Paul was converted. The people were already in place. Paul would write the letters and travel on missionary journeys to the churches to carry out God’s agenda and plan for the gospel. This is fascinating to me because it illustrates how we can get it so backwards. We think that we are the ones who have to create ministry. We see in all the letters of the New Testament that ministry was going out and it was multiplying. The challenges we faced in the 2020 pandemic can be the catalyst to harness prime potential for the Gospel going out in ways we’ve never seen before.
Courageous Next Steps:
ASSESS where we are and what we’ve been doing. Get a broader perspective – our perception is not the reality. We can think that we’re ministering to people but we’re not. Hear from your people. Who are they? Who is missing? Who are you seeing that you haven’t seen before? Is your team equipped or do you need to grow your team to include potential new ministry?
EVALUATE the results and the spiritual fruit of ministry. Identify your people and plan effective strategies to minister to them. What remains when everything is stripped away? What spiritual fruit and life transformation are you seeing?
LEVERAGE the opportunities, resources and people available in order to lead with more effective strategies. Set clear direction and be decisive about steps to move forward. Establish clear goals and practical strategies to carry out new ways to minister and involve others in the process.
Clarity comes from praying, seeking, following God, listening to His voice, and spending time in His Word. In these days when we are vying for the attention and commitment of the people in our churches and communities, we must be ready to adapt ministry to meet the people we’re trying to reach. We must be willing to engage with them continually and consistently. It will take courage.
“See, the Lord your God has set the land before you. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” Deuteronomy 1:21