Wednesday, October 17, 2007

#5 I Stopped Putting Presentation & Program Over People

Hello All,

I had this funny conversation with Jonathan Knepper, the Youth Pastor at Kingsfield Church, yesterday about a funny concept in the church. He and I were swapping stories about how we can miss the ministry for the sake of ministry! An example will clear things up. Once upon a time, a minister was on his way to a conference on world missions and evangelism, when he was stopped by a man seeking salvation. The minister refused to stop, realizing that he would be late for the first session "Identifying Open Doors To Ministry" if he stopped and helped this man!!

You might be thinking that you know where I'm going with this one and you might be right! But let me share how I got there. Jesus told the Pharisees, a religious group of people who proverbially missed the forest for the trees, that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. This intrigued me, as I realized that something that God had mandated for man's enjoyment, had been twisted and turned into a burden that man was now a slave to bear. The connection soon followed as I looked at how I thought about people and the programs that I was involved in.

Did they want to come? If not, they were spiritually lazy! When they came to said event, were they enthusiastic and "into it?" If not, they were not spiritually in tune! The programs had been made for them, but now, in a sense, how I thought about them made them for the program!

Whether it was a youth group camp or outing or fellowship, I almost always honored my event, and judged whoever was there by their love and acceptance of the given event. Soon, I saw how this was sapping my love for the ministry and more importantly, the people that God had given me charge over.

The meeting is for the congregation. The outing is meant to benefit them. The fellowship is so that they might be blessed. I had made each of these measuring rods of my own success, something that every minister seems prone to deal with.

You see this all the time at Pastor's conferences. "So, how many people are coming to your services?" "How big is your building?" God bless these men, and nothing is wrong with the questions intrinsically, but I want to be asked "Are you enjoying the people that God has given you?" "Have you enjoyed asking them about their lives and concerns?"

I stopped thinking in those terms and looked for the events and the gatherings to be blessings to the kids or adults. The program, for lack of a better word, took a back seat to the needs of the congregation, who often needed more than the program. They required attention, the love of the Lord, and the gentle hand of correction, leading them back to the Lord. Most of this happened in spite or instead of my messages or clever events.

Don't misunderstand: events, programs, et all, are required parts of the ministry. You can't have a youth group without a youth group meeting. You can't have a healthy group unless they have an opportunity to fellowship and serve, which means events on the calendar that challenge and attract people to work together. Now, this all being said, I will say that ministry is not about the calendar or the program. It's about us as ministers being poured out and spent on hurting people who may not respond to the programs per se, but will respond to a loving gesture, and an interested heart.

This drastically altered the way I thought about ministry. I stopped waiting for people to come to my event. I went to them and took interest in their lives. I stopped asking Christian cliche questions, and truly desired to care about their welfare and how their lives were going!

I just wanted to be genuine! There I said it! I was sick of looking at people as statistics and measurements for my own "attestation of authenticity!" I wanted to love and minister the love of God to the people who came looking to be touched by Him!

And let me say, it's hard to do, perhaps more so than any of my other personal philosophies, because I work in a professional clergy environment, where we often mark our success in the numbers, which by the way is not necessarily wrong in and of itself! One might wonder, if you start with a large number of people and then, they slowly whittle away to nothingness, that maybe your gifting lay elsewhere! So numbers can be good indicators, but I don't want to live and die by them! I want to live and die and base my ministry on genuine concern and godly love for all that I come into regular contact with.

This makes the ministry a source of joy, especially since it is about the success stories of God through His people! And while He's at it, it's cool when there are lots of stories to reference!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

3 comments:

Carrie said...

"I will say that ministry is not about the calendar or the program".

great! ...i am writing on your calendar sunday...
;)

Frank & Lela said...

Carrie,

Uh...let's not take this too far!! Unauthorized writing on my calendar by unauthorized personnel is akin to grafiti and is punishable by multiple years in the klink!

Have a great day at BIOLA!

Blessings,
F.S.

Carrie said...

ha :)

also, thought you would find this interesting...

http://www.desiringgod.org/12all/index.php?action=archive&mode=view&mi=170&nl=1&ei=carriemarieallen@yahoo.com