Lost: We have all been there. Lost in the woods, lost in the downtown of a strange city, lost in the Mall of America. In his book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hiking, Camping and the Great Outdoors , Michael Mouland provides this advice, "You might be lost. The best strategy to take at that time is to stop hiking and think carefully about your next move. The worst thing you can do is keep walking. You may only be just slightly lost; if you keep marching on, you will only make a small problem worse."*
There is no use in wandering when you are lost in ministry. The best move is to not move. To stay still, listen, and reevaluate the purpose of your ministry activity. Pastor Jim Hennesy of Trinity Church in Cedar Hill, TX once said that some ministries practice "activity without destiny." Doing ministry without purpose is like running on a treadmill; you expend a lot of energy, but in the end you're still in the same place.
Here's a plan. Get out your calendar from last year. Month by month look at the ministry activities on that calendar and ask yourself these questions, "Why did we do that? Would we do it again? Did it move students closer to Jesus?" Once you have prayerfully reflected on those questions, then begin to cross-off the activities that do not move students closer to Christ.
"Pearls Before Swine" is daily comic strip written and drawn by Stephen Pastis. The main characters are a sensible goat, a sarcastic rat, and a naïve pig. In one of my favorite strips, goat says, "Well, guys. I'm off. Today is my family's annual potato sack race. It's sort of a tradition." Pig asks, "What's ‘tradition?'" Rat responds, "Tradition is the reason for doing something you can no longer think of a reason for doing." Sadly goat acknowledges, "I hate when I agree with you." Wide-eyed pig realizes, "So that's why we still see our annoying family."
Discovering why you do something can be disheartening or enlightening depending on what you do with that information. If it's for tradition, consider cutting it. If it's for purpose, do everything to keep it.
Follow Garland on Twitter: @gowensby
*Source: Michael Mouland, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hiking, Camping and the Great Outdoors), p 120.