Ad-Ministry Blues

Things have finally settled down into what will most likely be my routine for the first half of the year. I’m finding it interesting to notice the way in which the work I’m engaged in on any particular day affects my total outlook on the ministry. Let me explain, first a brief recap… This year I have taken on a new role with Crossroads (my Church fellowship, and FOCUS – the university student ministry) I have moved from being a ministry apprentice, part of the MTS training programme, were most work is carried out under the supervision of a senior member of our staff team. As an ministry trainee you get to do a lot of the grunt work, meeting with people running Bible studies: The majority of your time is spent doing face-to-face gospel encouragement with people (or preparing to do so). There are times when MTS can be frustrating – you don’t always have a lot of input into the overall direction of the ministry, and if things work in a way you don’t like, you just have to grin and bear it.
Taking over a leadership position has given me a whole new perspective on these things. I now have the great privilege of sharing with the senior staff in planning and discussing the overall direction of our ministry. I am much more responsible for my own time and planning, and have a responsibility to others to make sure they are encouraged to make the most of their own time. These are all exciting, at times scary, opportunities to grow and develop my skills as a minister of the word. What kills me is the amount of meetings and admin…
I’m writing this in the brief period before my first meeting for the day (and week actually). I seem to go from one meeting to another on some days. These are the days I find that I get most discouraged about our work. Meetings seem to tie us up in endless talking, sometimes they aren’t brilliantly run, they can easily become very inefficient. In addition, I seem to spend hours following up people to delegate jobs, design leaflets, plan for other meetings, keep up with emails… I’ve noticed that the days when my timetable is filled with this sort of thing, I begin to get a bit gloomy. Where are the simple golden days of MTS – the open setting forth of the gospel for the building up of the Church?
Other days, particularly Wednesdays, I love. I spend the whole of Wednesday doing things on and around the campus. I meet with the FOCUS student president (Tim Omrod) to read the Bible and pray at the start of the day. It’s always a time of great refreshment and encouragement. Tim is a man with a great heart for people and his prayers are full of it. We both then head over to the campus to help the other students with our evangelistic market stall. The stall is a focal point for the Christian students to gather around. It gives us great opportunity to talk to non-Christian students about Jesus. And serves as a reminder that the FOCUS public meeting is coming up later in the day. For half and hour before the FOCUS meeting I meet with all the students who will be involved in running the meeting, we run through the programme, I hear what they are planning to say, and then we spend some time in prayer together.
The FOCUS public meeting is the highlight of the week in student ministry. The students run everything, we pray, have a reading from Scripture, and lately, we have been studying through the book of 1 Corinthians with talks from Marcus Reeves. (I’ve posted the first talk in the resources section). It’s hugely encouraging, we have students from very diverse backgrounds coming along (this year we’ve had a number of catholic students and the catholic chaplain as well). People love to talk to each other, the student leaders work really hard. It is a living touchable model of Christian community in the middle of a hostile secular institution. It’s what it’s all about!!!
After the meeting lots of students hang around for a few hours on the lawn area outside the lecture theatre. This is the time when new people discover the warmth and welcome of genuine Christians, people play sport, each lunch, and generally just relax together.
I spend a little while with the students who were involved in running the meeting, debriefing, giving them feedback on how different things went, hopefully training each other so that they will be better equipped Christian leaders when they graduate and move on to serve the Church in other places.
The day finishes with a prayer meeting together for 1/2 hour. It’s full of praising God for his work in our lives, and response and repentance drawn from the word that has been preached to us that day.
A day like that reminds me of the great glory of gospel ministry and the benefit in people’s lives that will last for eternity. The challenge is that most days are a mix of these things and the more mundane meetings and admin.
The challenge is to view these meetings and admin times as valuable ministry and to seek the opportunities to glorify God and encourage others when they occur. I value your prayers in this. I certainly find that I am better equipped to view the whole of ministry and relationships when I have spent time in the word during the day. I am greatly encouraged by Paul’s passion and vision for gospel ministry in 2 Corinthians.
“Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”
(2Cor 4:13-15 ESV)

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