Talking to a friend today who connects with a lot of church leaders in her job I was struck by this turn of phrase: “Ministry is Manna at the moment for many”.
It wasn’t a comment on how church ministers get fed by ministering (!) – always a danger there – but on how it’s a bit hand-to-mouth in terms of vision for many. [Manna was what Moses and God’s people lived off in their desert wanderings and had to collect day by day as it wouldn’t last]
image credit: source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKJ2l6aabKg
So all those years of putting together strategic plans, Mission Action Plans, five year strategies etc all have been a bit blown out of the water by COVID. The basic mission of every church remains the same: Love God, Love Each Other, Love Your Neighbour, & make disciples who you baptise and teach to obey Christ, but it’s hard for many/most to see around the corner of the morrow and make plans for when the sun shines again.
I’ve a lot of sympathy for that.
But I think it’s time to start.
Looking at the hilarious list of ‘diocesan straplines’ (wonder how many man hours went into coming up with those?) you quickly realise that vision is rarely hard to find (unless a committee is responsible). Start loving God, each other and your neighbour, while trying to make disciples you can baptise and journey with into more obedience and you soon find things the God of mission is doing that he’d love you to join in with.
Some of them you can do on a day to day basis. As my last post (inspired by Chris Fox) says just wake up each morning and put your hand in Jesus’ hand and see what you can do together.
Some of it needs a little planning.
Some needs heaven and earth to move so funding, people and resources are found.
All of it needs prayer.
But this prayer thing is not supposed to be an add on – ‘God bless our plans’.
I think maybe we need to take a step back to the incredible talk some of us heard at New Wine United this summer. Nicola Neal was talking on a local revival in a slum near to Kampala, Uganda. There the staff of the outreach project had an important addition to their job description (and an important deletion). Exactly half their allocated ministry time was to be spent in prayer and worship.
As they focused on the ultimate vision (the Glory of God the Father, through His Son being exalted in the presence of his Spirit) amazing things began to happen. The vision of the Kingdom you can find in worship, the tangible reality of the Kingdom, began to penetrate their reality on earth. It then overflowed into healings, conversion, community transformation etc!
If your vision is healing/conversion/transformation you may of course get some way there, often in your own strength and effort.
But if your vision is Him ministry will indeed be manna because it will not just be renewed daily but will also sustain you as well.
So let’s let ministry be manna – but just in a different way…
… and maybe then we’ll make it out of our desert wanderings…
Anyhow, little though for the day. Thanks Morag!