I remember when I first started in ministry. I had lots of naysayers, including people in my family. I was not the one expected to commit to full time ministry. That job was reserved for my much more “religious” brother who didn't commit as many sins as I did. Working in children's ministry was one of the only places in my life that made any sense at the time. Besides being a mom, it was the only thing that came natural and that I was good at.
Regardless of the comments from the doubters, I knew it was where I needed to be. But it didn't come without consequence or mistakes. I was so overwhelmed at that time in my life, trying to balance it all and be it all for Jesus that I lost a really great friend, and unfortunately hurt her in the process. I gave up opportunities to work elsewhere making more money, which as a single mom I needed.
No longer was I, or am I, able to make “gut” or logical decisions about my future. Every move I make or don't make involves prayer and more prayer and wise counsel, and often times tears. Me being in ministry has put my entire family in frustrating positions and financial difficulties.
Ha! I'm obviously not the salesman of the year when it comes to convincing you that ministry is awesome! Oh but it is! All of those sacrifices and struggles are worth it when you hear a teenager pray for the first time, or a kid run up to you and hug your leg on Sunday morning. When the kids in the neighborhood want to know when you will start a Bible study for them, and when teenagers don't want to move because youth group is so important to them. Then there are the proclaimed atheists who now know this Jesus that adores them. And the addicts who know that Jesus is the only answer.
It is just that in times like these, when me and my husband must make a hard decision where we don't seem to win either way, it is so hard not to feel guilty. Ministry is not just a sacrifice for me, but for my husband, for my children. I am so incredibly grateful that the sacrifice Jesus made was enough for my family to be 'all in.' But it is hard to swallow that in order for me to pursue what Jesus has for me, my husband must take a second job to support our family or work countless hours of overtime.
Ministry has these moments when you and your family must come together, completely unified, with faith in God that He will make all things right. It is ugly and beautiful all at once.
Don't give up.
What are some sacrifices you've made for ministry? Comment and let me know.
One of the things almost every Christian parent does is find VBS at any church you possible can so we can get rid of your kids for a few hours each day. We hop from church to church closest to our houses, week after week, collecting T-Shirts and craft projects in exchange for a few moments of summer peace.
I am of no exception to this rule. The only thing that is different about me is that I have been in full time ministry for 10 years, and am currently working on the staff of a church plant. What makes my qualifications pertinent is I become very in tune with the workings of every church and their ministry. I am looking for ideas, sensing the Spirit, and struggling with my nature that always wants improvement, so often I am critical.
One of the things I stay most aware of is how welcoming and inviting the church people are. I believe that the most important thing a church can do is show love with open arms. As a church plant, especially, every connection made is a possible piece of the foundation of our church. But really, the church as a whole should desire and strive to missionally reach out to every person who steps foot in our presence.
If a church in Africa or the Dominican had people walk on their property, or were going into the community to reach the out to the lost they would certainly ensure a warm smile, a welcoming hug or handshake, burning to offer a sense of hope. But in America, we tend to take for granted whether or not people “really” need Jesus or “really” need to be a part of our church– or even THE church!
I have attended 3 events at this one particular area church, each one meant to be outreach events to the community. I have filled out registration information at two of the three events. I have never been contacted and not once at any event has anyone approached me to shake my hand or invite me to a church service.
What if I was that mother who was drowning in addiction? What if I was that woman at the well? What if I was the demon-possessed man? What if I was afraid and confused about who Jesus really was and this was my ONE, meek effort to try and connect?
We as the church body should look at every person with this perspective. We should assume that every.single.person. that God brings across our path is someone that needs to be reached for Jesus. We should be self-less about our functions at church, and not get caught up in the business of doing church, but concentrate more on being Jesus.
I have three more days left of this VBS, and I am hoping to get an invite. If not, I will just allow this lesson to better me and allow me to be aware of every person’s need for Jesus. How about you? Do you invite people to meet with Jesus?
I took Statstics for Psychology in College many moons ago and hated it. But one thing I did learn is that 56% of all statistics are made up….get it? I just made that up? Get it? I crack myself up.
I did take statistics however, and I do wish some of the REAL statistics I am going to share with you in this post were as funny as my joke–because you know my joke was
NOT HILARIOUS. I only pray that as I align them all and explain the importance of our task at hand, you will not just read this, comment or like, but you will actually allow the reality of our world to sink into the depths of your heart and move you to action. Lord, break our hearts for what breaks yours…
[In the state of Florida]
There are approximately 4.1 million kids under the age of 18! This is 4.1 million kids who need to hear the Gospel.
37.5% kids were born to moms between the ages of 15 and 19. And 90% of those teen moms were unwed. And for almost 20% of those 15 to 19 year olds, that was their 2nd or even 3rd child. This is 38% of kids who are wounded and struggling to understand a grown up world without the chance to grow up.
38% of children in Florida live in a single parent household. This is 38% of kids who have no idea what family is suppose to be–how God designed it.
76,000 kids ages 10-17 are part of the juvenile justice system. After taking out the data for kids 0-9 and doing a few back flips and clicks, we are left with a rather large number of kids who break the law and are being shuffled through our system.
Thankfully, God made kids with open hearts, receptive to Him, desiring a relationship with Him. In fact, in the book of Matthew Jesus encourages us to be like children in our faith and our relationship with Him. Without fear, or questions–just trusting.
This is probably why 43% of all Christians come to faith in Christ before turning 13–and 64% make their commitment before turning 18.
So why is this?
Why are kids the ones most likely to come to Christ YET are living out lives that are filled with hurt and disconnection?
Why are kids suffering through the tragedy of not having a family, or starting their own families when they aren’t even old enough to rent a car? Why are kids alone? Confused? Traumatized?
Here is MY answer:
Churches are failing the next generations. We are too concerned with big stage designs and fun programming. We want ministry on Sunday to be fun before it is real. We don’t want to take the time to build relationships because we want to grow numbers. We are often times more concerned with the lighting in the worship center than we are with the child who’s dad just moved out.
Is raising and growing and loving our kids into a relationship with Christ important? YES! But more so, raising and growing and loving ALL kids into a relationship with Christ is of the utmost importance. We must talk with them, hug them, cry with them, hold their hands, pray with them and for them. We must do more!
I believe the condition of our generations breaks God’s heart. In Isaiah 53:3 it describes Jesus as “a Man of sorrows…acquainted with grief.” I believe that He is very much grieving over every lost, hurting child in this world.
It is up to you and to me to change that. We must care–we must love–we must share the Hope
of Christ. It is the ONLY answer.