First, I do hope you had a great Christmas celebrating Jesus’ birth and also having family and friends around you. I am aware that for some Christmas is a difficult time and if this applied to you I trust that you knew God’s grace for the circumstances. May 2011 be a fruitful and fulfilling year for you.
Last year I shared an eight part series on some aspects of planning but made clear that these were essentially for an event or some other activity with a clear time boundary. Ministry is different. It is open ended so requires a different approach. This will be the subject of my next series.
Before we dive into the subject I would like to express concerns I have about terminology. I don’t like expressions like ‘Project’ in the context of helping people, ‘The Disabled’ and so on. What is the common feature that makes me dislike these expressions? They tend to focus on a problem and define people by that problem rather than on the person who may have a particular characteristic or disadvantage (measured by whose plumb-line?!). I wear glasses but would not like to be defined as ‘The sight impaired’.
Let me illustrate. We are all handicapped and need assistance on occasion – try putting a screw in a piece of wood without a screwdriver and you will get my point. Because this is more conspicuous in some than others we tend to patronisingly describe them by their perceived problem rather than by their person-ness i.e. they are people like you and me made in the image of God.
Ministry not Project
In this series I hope to avoid using the word ‘project’ in an unqualified way as this has the same connotation. Rather, I shall tend to refer to ‘ministry’ where a term is required as this carries the on-going nature of what the church is seeking to do in its community. Jesus came ‘not to be ministered unto, but to minister (or serve)’ (Matt 20:28 KJV).
Is it right that we see the activities surrounding people we are trying to empower or help in some way as a project? Is that the way you describe the children’s ministry in your church? Are they a project or are they young people made in the image of God whom you are trying to equip and empower in the ways of God? Surely that is also true for people who live on the street, or are dependent on drugs. Let us not define people by the challenges they face but see them as God sees them – made in His image full of potential to bring Him glory.
In the next posting we shall look at some of the basics to get started.