Every repetitive thing we do in life is in danger of a dulling descent into rote. And our ministry rhythms are not immune. Week after week we plan worship. Year after year we start new ministries and add fuel to existing ones. It can feel like rinse and repeat; wax on/wax off. How do we continue to breathe new life into our ministries, generating excitement and motivation?
I suggest three ways (like every good sermon!)…
1. | Evaluate what is working well
I always try to consider what brings me joy and energy and put my efforts in those areas of ministry. Recently, we began looking at our worship-planning process. In our rhythm, we plan multiple weeks of worship at a time, and by the end of the meeting everyone is fried! We were missing details because our capacity to stay focused was waning. Through the evaluation process, we determined to split the one long meeting into two shorter bite-size meetings and make some changes to our format. Now, no one dreads the planning meeting, and we are not missing the details.
2 | Evaluate what is not working well and sucks the life out of you
Either stop what you’re doing, or hand it off. Sometimes there are ministries you do not feel are working well, but others find a lot of joy in participating in them. Look for ways that you can empower others to provide leadership. This is tough! It’s a great time to ask pointed questions around continuing a ministry that is not life-giving to you. Are you living out someone else’s expectations for you? Is there someone who could do this better? Would you be okay with letting them lead? Let go of “should” and position yourself to thrive.
3 | Evaluate what’s missing
Create space to imagine what is possible. This will take a willingness to think beyond your capacity by engaging others in the discussion. You do not have to be the impetus for every new ministry. In her book, The Extended Mind, author Annie Murphy Paul talks about “distributed cognition, which probes the effects of thinking with others—such as how people working in groups can coordinate their individual areas of expertise and how groups can work together to produces results that exceed their members’ individual contributions.” Basically, we are smart when we work together with others to expand our insights and to benefit from their wisdom. So, if you find yourself sitting in your office trying to come up with the “next big idea,” open the door and let some others in. Chances are you will be more inspired, and so will others.
Most important for each of us is to turn off the autopilot and begin to imagine and discover where the Spirit of God is moving in the people of God. In Isaiah 43 and again in Revelation 21, we see God’s bedrock promise: “I am making all things new.” This is a prompt for us to look forward, to consider the ways God is moving. And this becomes palpable as we consider how the Body of Christ can continue to make things new, and even make new things. May the Spirit of God empower you and your congregation to live into making new things in new ways to inspire you and one another.
QUESTIONS | REFLECTIONS
- What brings you joy? What energizes you? How can you do more of these things?
- What are you tolerating in your life or ministry setting? What would it look like if it was gone?
- What’s missing in your life? How can you add it or reclaim it?
- What will you do THIS WEEK to breathe new life into your ministry?
If you need someone to come alongside you or your congregation, please reach out to any of our Coaches at Vibrant Faith. We all stand ready to serve you and the ministry of the church.
Rev. Dr. Mark Slaughter serves as the Minister of Worship Arts at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN. In addition to his 35+ years of ministry, he received a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary, Master of Divinity and Church Music from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Bachelor of Music from Belmont University.