We recently talked about personal discipleship and how growing as a disciple means stretching beyond what is comfortable and safe. God keeps calling us to go further, which sometimes means relying on faith to walk on water. But we do not practice discipleship in a vacuum. We are called together to do God’s will.
We work together to discern God’s will and to carry it out. When we see the great need for healthy and abundant food, we may just drop off some food at the food bank. But we realize that if we want to end hunger we cannot simply address the symptoms of the problem as individuals, we need to work with others to discover and address the root causes of the problem so that it doesn’t exist anymore. This is how most of our ministries begin. People coming together with common values and a common cause.
Even successful groups and ministries can experience a sense of lost purpose or meaning over time. Sometimes the most successful ministries experience it because they have accomplished what they were called together to do. Then it’s back to discernment. Has this ministry fulfilled its call? Is there a different need related to our original purpose that this group is equipped to meet (or can become equipped to meet)? Are we being called to something entirely new?
We don’t need to wait until we get to a major transition to ask ourselves these questions. If we are regularly asking ourselves these questions we can see the path ahead more clearly. Or, even if the next steps are unclear, move forward with faith and joy into whatever comes. Is what we are doing meeting our mission? If it isn’t, what do we need to start or stop doing? Do we have the right partners to fulfill our mission? To help us have conversations about it?
Asking these questions is just part of keeping our ministries vital and centered on Christ. Just as in our individual lives, our ministry teams need to develop discipleship practices together. Prayer, study, acts of service, eating meals together – these simple acts done regularly and as a group helps you grow together. These acts prepare your ministry teams to live out their values and central missions because everything they do is centered on faithful practice.
A team that is growing in faith together, getting to know each other and trust each other more deeply works better together. When you are facing difficult decisions, when you are looking at your direction, when you are uncertain of the future, when you are ready to make a big change – a team growing in faith will be able to face these with hearts and minds ready to listen to each other and the Holy Spirit.
So, where is the growing edge for your ministry or ministry team? What do you need to let go of? What is a risk you need to take with faith? What are the steps you need to take to answer these questions together?