Monthly Archives: February 2014

How Do You Measure Your Ministry? Part 2

So, what were your real and honest answers to the question, “How do you measure your ministry?”  To read part 1 of this post click here.

Recently I asked our church staff this same question.  There were a variety of answers we came up with.  Then I shared this quote by Glenn Burris, “You measure ministry by the effectiveness of lives that are transformed.”  The definition of transform is to change in composition or structure, to change the outward form or appearance, to change in character or condition or nature.

I then asked our staff to think about people in our church whose lives have been transformed – the structure of the foundation of their life has been altered, their countenance has changed and most importantly their very character and nature is radically different.  One of the joys of ministry is watching people’s lives be transformed right before your eyes!

As we thought of people who have been transformed through the work Jesus has done through our church, I passed out sheets of paper and permanent markers and asked them to write their names down in large letters, one name per sheet.  As many names as they could think of.  As we did, we taped them up on the wall, one after another after another.  Then we shared parts of their story with each other.  Most of us were in tears as we recounted what their life was like before and what their life is like now.  Stories of marriages healed after affairs, young people whose lives are now sold out for Christ, leaders who had been believed in and raised up to serve others, men and women who are becoming more and more like Christ and sharing Him with others.

As we looked at all those sheets of paper that represented changed lives, we asked ourselves what the common denominators were in these people’s lives.  We narrowed it down to two basic things:  #1) they surrendered their life to Christ and #2) someone invested in them.            A surrendered life is their responsibility, investment is ours.

Though we were humbled and grateful for the many transformed lives, we recognized how easy it could be to rest on our laurels.  Yet, in order for our church to continue to be effective, we need to be passionate about seeing more and more lives changed in structure, appearance, character and nature.  We closed our time together in prayer, recommitting ourselves to the work God has called us to, energized by the encouragement of the Holy Spirit.

Thank You, Jesus, for the privilege to serve You as You change lives.  I pray those in our churches will surrender their lives to You.  We re-commit our lives to invest in others.  Give us grace, strength and creativity!  In Your name and for Your sake, Amen  

Your Friend in Ministry,

Name3

 

 

How Do You Measure Your Ministry? Part 1

When my husband and I were in Bible college we had the privilege of serving at our denomination’s Pastor’s Convention with other students for a couple of years.  We had a great time driving long distances by van to go serve however we were needed.

One of our first experiences interacting with pastors came when we arrived at the hotel where we were staying and decided to go swimming.  A group of us sat in the hot tub with a guy who asked us if we were there for the convention. After we answered yes, he shared with us that he was a pastor.  In those days, being young and impressionable, we held pastors in the highest regard, hanging on their every word – they were like rock stars to us!  Since it was a day or two after Easter Sunday, we asked him how his Easter services went.  His reply was something like, “We had a good Easter, great attendance and lots of money in the offering, and that’s what ministry is about after all.”  To say we were shocked by his response is an understatement!  What about those who heard the good news of Jesus for the first time?  What about hearts that were changed?

Here we were studying to give our lives for the cause of Christ, in order to see people’s lives turned around, is this how we would end up – only measuring attendance and giving?  If that’s what ministry would do to us, maybe we should change our life’s direction now and get out while the gettin’ was good!

This brings up a very good question:  Just exactly how do you measure your ministry?  What would you judge as successful ministry?  More importantly, what would Jesus judge as successful ministry?

  • Attendance?
  • Offering/giving?
  • Facilities?
  • Serving?
  • Countenance?
  • Growth?
  • Changed Lives?
  • Faithfulness?

As a staff at the church where I serve,  we recently did a meaningful exercise to measure our ministry as a church.  In my next blog post I will share it with you.  In the meantime, why not take some time to get real and honest… How do you (really) measure your ministry?

Oh and by the way, what we didn’t know at the time, is that this pastor has a dry sense of humor and he was yanking our chain just a bit.  We have since gotten to know him better and know that he is all about lives being changed and transformed by Christ.  However, that hasn’t stopped us from affectionately calling him, “Mr. Hot Tub” (-smile-)!

Your Friend in Ministry,

Name3

 

 

 

Could Ya Play?

When I was a little girl, I lived in the desert in a small town outside of Las Vegas, NV.  The summers were extremely dry and hot, hot, hot!  At the end of our street lived a younger girl named Cindy.  I don’t know about you, but when I think of the name Cindy, I think of a very girly, feminine girl.  However, this Cindy was not.  In fact, she was very much a tom-boy, often going around the neighborhood shirtless in the summer (even when she was about eight years old!!).

Cindy used to regularly come to our house, ring the doorbell and as soon as we opened the door, she would say, in a rather expressionless face with a monotone voice “couldyaplay?”  She said it as one long word “couldyaplay”, rather than three short words “could you play?”.  Looking back on it now, I am ashamed to admit that my sisters and I didn’t always want to play with Cindy.  We didn’t have much in common with her and her tom-boy ways, plus she was younger than us.  All Cindy was looking for, like any other little girl,  was a friend.  She didn’t find very good ones in us, (forgive us Lord!).

It isn’t just little girls who are looking for friends, is it?  Most women desire close female companionship, it’s the way God designed us to function best.  When I was young in the ministry, there was a common belief among the older women in ministry that you could not be close friends with the people in your church.  As I heard this I remember thinking, I’m either going to be really lonely or I’m going to have to prove this belief wrong.  I knew I couldn’t live without friends, so I went about to prove otherwise.  Here is what I have learned about friendship over the years.

  1. There is a difference between ministry relationships and friendships.  Ministry relationships are one-sided, where you reach out in friendship, love, support to those who need it. Friendships are two-sided, where friendship, love and support is reciprocated back to you.  In the ministry, you will have many ministry relationships, but few friendships.  Yet, you need strong and deep friendships to stay healthy in the ministry.
  2. Look for friendship with women who serve with you on a church staff.  Some of my dearest, lifelong friends are those I have served alongside.
  3. If that is not an option either because your church is small or friendships with those you serve with is not a good fit, consider other women in ministry in your community.  Although your paths may not cross as often as you like, these friends have a keen understanding of what it’s like to walk in your shoes, because they’re walking in similar ones.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask God to provide you friends within your church.  As you do keep in mind the following:
  • Let God choose your friends for you.  Sometimes you have to let go of the friends you think you want so that God can bring you the friends He knows you need.
  • Don’t rush the process.  True, lasting friendships take a long time to develop.  As you slowly share and are vulnerable, the Holy Spirit will show you if you can entrust your heart or not.
  • It may feel uncomfortable to share the real you, especially because you are normally the one who listens in most relationships.  To this day, I still get caught off guard when people ask me how I’m really doing.  It is not a question that gets asked often of us in ministry, but it’s OK to be real and share your doubts, concerns, hurts, heartaches, laughter and joy with trusted friends.  It is vitally important that you have friends who are able to input into your life.
  • There are some sensitive ministry situations or concerns you can only share with the Lord or your husband.  Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and keep you appropriate in what you share.

Thankfully, times have changed and some of the beliefs about how to interact with your congregation have been altered over the years.  I have been in the ministry close to 20 years now and am living proof that you can be friends with those in your church.  You may have to knock on a lot of doors, asking “couldyaplay”, but eventually God will provide you with the friends you need.

In addition to real-life friends, hear me asking you today “couldyaplay?”  I pray this blog is a place where we know that the door of friendship won’t be slammed in our face but, rather, opened with a smile offering love, encouragement and support for those of us who serve God in ministry.  May it be so, in Jesus’ Name!

Your Friend in Ministry,

Name3