Yesterday many churches had their “Vision,” “Launch,” or “Kick-off” Sunday and likely most pastors/ministry types woke up today with mixed feelings of excitement, frustration, anxiety, and hopefully, some clarity. (There is probably at least one email today that should not be replied to before careful thought). It’s the new ministry year and there is so much potential goodness to be experienced by us and others.
I’m beginning my third ministry year at my current church Grace Chapel and fourteenth in vocational ministry. This year I have been very intentional about preparing myself to enter the new ministry year as healthy-minded as possible. Sounds impressive til you consider why it’s taken 14 years to think about this ;)
Two years, we had literally just moved to MA and welcomed our third child at the same time just two weeks before the ministry year. Between the joy of being new and the cloud I was walking on, 2011 was a fun fall. Last year however, was a bit more taxing. We bought a house, did some traveling with the little ones and felt August move too fast. Still the new ministry year started off well but it wasn’t without some glitches. This year we vacationed in July, stayed a bit closer to home in August and I have to say, we feel as ready as we’re going to be for the Fall.
Personally, I’ve been thinking, strategizing and praying about the fall and I’ll admit, part of it is motivated by the negative. There’s that feeling ministry types get at the end of August and early September that says, “We’re not going to be ready, I’m not even ready. Our vision is not that exciting and our plans are not that tight. We don’t have enough volunteers, not enough resources, not enough time …”
I’m not naive enough to think I won’t have these thoughts, after all some of this is reality, but it would be good to prepare our hearts to not be attacked by them. These words limit our faith in what God can do, impair our leadership, over-estimates what we are capable of if we just had more volunteers, resources, time and it usually “fails the other.”
There are a couple of tough spots in every ministry year. There’s that lull at the end of May and early June when everyone looks for the door. Awesome volunteers, committed parishioners, fellow ministry types – people are counting down. Some who have had a tough year, well, they may have slipped out the back after Easter. Another tough part of the year is right after the New Year, because of that weird holiday emotional hangover. Christmas is over, bills are coming in, we quit our resolutions, you know the drill. And if you live in the North well, it’s cold.
Then there’s right now. As exciting as the new ministry year can be, it carries so much anxiety. The solution is not found in denial and there is a danger of obsessing about using your summer getting ready for something and losing out on the goodness of the days and weeks leading up to it. But these days also carry so much promise as well and throughout the summer, I have found myself motivated by the positive as well.
In 14 years, I’ve learned there will never be enough volunteers, there never will be (a post on that soon), nor will there ever be enough resources, or time and no matter how well thought out and articulated the new changes are, not everyone will be happy. That’s part of the ministry life. And we would be remised if we missed to live, model and share that so much of the Christian life deals with responding to the frustrations, pain, and shortcomings we find in this life.
The path to a great ministry year is not based on our pastoral/ministry performance but rather it’s more about God using us to speak, heal, and proclaim His message of hope and love to those that in need it. May great things happen in and through your church this 2013-2014 year. Grace and peace.