There are few things more daunting in ministry than being told that the world is One Way, only to find out, not only is it not this One Way, but that it is so markedly different that conclusions drawn about the One Way will lead to disaster in starting out ministry geared that direction.
I am grateful for folks like Dan who share their experience
, and their educational background that led them to such conclusions. And then, even more so for that ways in which he seems to grasp at how he might find the place where people are.
With examples like this, I begin by trying an old approach. I do community organizing strategies, with some modifications. I do my best to get into the community to meet people. I remember being taught the term "pastorpreneur" to define the pastor who is taking an entrepreneurial approach to ministry. I decided that I needed to get out more.
Visits with the congregation, the local big wigs, the school leaders, the police, fire and emergency personnel all help gain insight. Additionally, I spend a lot of time out of the office. I figure the folks who are at the church know about the church, I need to be talking to the folks who don't know about the church. I want to help them find a connection that is real, that offers Jesus Christ, and provides a community of faith that will help them mature.
That is what gets me out. Then I have to work on getting the people in the church to full maturity. I keep telling folks that I am trying to work my way out of a job. I realized a long time ago that with ministry there is no shortage of jobs. I cannot do them all so I had better start training folks to do those jobs. As I do so I work myself out of a job. Then I am forced to look at the next area of growth, or emergence in the church, and the community, and I have to train myself, prepare and then teach that job to someone else. It helps keep me in the here and now, and looking to the future all the time.
I will acknowledge that I don't always get it right. I sometimes get it very wrong. But, for now, I am trying to find out what the needs of the community are, so that we can begin to converge the needs of the larger community, with the wants and desires of the community of faith at St. Andrew, filled by the Spiritual Gifts God has provided to achieve the tasks before us.