Monday, November 11, 2013

My Part in the Kingdom

This is a paper I wrote for Church Ministry 201, I thought I'd share it now that I'm in the D term. 

PART ONE: My Fit in Ministry (Before): I'm currently involved in several areas of ministry. At my home church New Day I'm on the prayer team. We pray for the service every week Sunday before it starts, and during the collection people write prayer requests and turn them in. Then we pray for the various prayer requests. Prayer is and will be a vitally important part of ministry for me. Unlike many in the church I literally and actually believe there is a God and that he answers prayers.
I'm also on the launch team for a new church called “The Edge.” It's a church designed to appeal to heavy metal rockers and music enthusiasts. This is key for me, because I was once a rock enthusiast. More so though, I was and am a drug addict and alcoholic. That's a powerful area of ministry, reaching out to those who feel like no one understands them and their addictions.
I have been pursuing a general course toward one day starting a church for seekers and lost people. I had a general major in religion and I hoped to one day start a large church, hopefully with growth, and eventually establish an international ministry. I've been observing various church leaders in the area and learning from them. I've been pursuing my own studies of apologetics, church ministry, atheism arguments, and arguments against evolution to arm myself for ministry. I do believe the primary state of mind in my church will be evangelism. My church ought to be thought of as a launching point only, to go into the community constantly. I had also been considering being a Chaplain in the military or in a hospital, public speaking evangelism, and incorporating 12 step recovery into my ministry as much as possible.

PART TWO: Spiritual Gifts: My three spiritual gifts that tied for first were showing mercy, exhortation, and pastor/shepherd. I would say that my spiritual gifts line up well with my path in ministry. Showing mercy is huge for me. I need to constantly be kind and compassionate and lift people up. I love encouraging people and I agree with Ministry is.. when it says that encouragement is hugely lacking in ministry. No wonder God called me to ministry! I love encouraging people. It's one of my favorite things to do. I also like teaching people how to encourage others. Exhortation is very important and close to my heart as well. This might fit with a more traveling public speaker mission of evangelism. I very much love and feel greatly compelled in my heart to share powerfully practical applications of scripture. Without practical application you get ministers who yell at their congregations to become holy, without explaining to them the process to see that happen. The twelve steps are useful in this capacity. In Kirk Cameron's film “Monumental” he analyzes a large statue left by the pilgrims, and the first step to safe guarding Christianity and liberty is inner transformation. My third key asset is pastor/shepherding. This makes it clear to me that I ought to eventually end up in a church preaching a consistent message week by week. I don't know if that's how it will start, or how my mission will conclude, but I'm sure it's in there somewhere. I try not to nail down too much at this point, I'm just starting, and I don't want to have a plan that I try to fulfill, I want to see God formulate a plan and put his mission before me so I can follow his plan, not my own. I did not score particularly well in serving, giving, or evangelism. I'll need to have ministry leaders with me who are good at gathering supplies and giving them to the public. I'll need people who are strong in that area. I didn't score too bad in administration, but I personally can't stand administration. The message is what's important to me. I'll need plenty of leaders around me who are good at organizing and who are good at getting the message out. Unfortunately I didn't score that well in evangelism, so I'll need to surround myself with leaders who are passionate about getting out into the community and can help plan those types of actions.

PART THREE: Church Evaluations: I found myself most interested with international ministries, public speaking, mission trips, small groups, celebrate recovery, hospital ministry, evangelism to non-believers, and giving sermons. I think I tend to look for the most authentic and genuine forms of ministry and reach for that. I also reach for large scopes in my ministry. I'm left handed, I'm a global thinker and organizer. I also have huge ideas for ministry rolling around in my head. I'm a planner and pioneer of new ideas at heart. I'm not exactly sure how to translate that into my ministry work, but I'm sure God placed those things on my heart for a reason. Primarily I saw a very evangelical spirit in my interest. I'm not interested in hiding behind the church walls. I want to be welcoming in new believers and non-believers. I especially want to be reaching out to drug addicts, alcoholics, codependents, and people with depression issues. I've had these issues first hand, and I know how devastating and confusing it is. I see my spot in ministry to bring these kind of people into the fold lovingly. Before my conversion I considered myself an intellectual, philosopher, journalist, and author. I believe a big part of my ministry will be speaking to atheists, agnostics, and idol worshipers giving intellectual arguments, apologetics, for the belief in Christ as Lord and savior. I feel a connection to confused and skeptical college students. I'd like to have a seekers ministry if possible, and encourage seeking. Celebrate recovery interests me, but I have issues with it's application in my previous experiences with it. I also enjoy small groups, and would want to incorporate them heavily into my church or ministry. I do believe my findings fit with my ministry path so far.

PART FOUR: Interaction with Church Leaders: I've noticed many things as I've interacted with church leaders and I've drawn a number of simple and complex conclusions as a result. Whether these church leaders know I'm watching them or not, I'm constantly watching everything they do even more so than most because I'm looking for tools to use once I graduate. I really like that Pastor Aaron is so genuine and positive. That makes a huge impact on ministry. The congregation will notice if a Pastor is being fake, it's very easy to tell if anyone is being sincere or not. Pastor Aaron is a powerful public speaker as well, and that stood out to me. When reading between the lines, I notice Pastor Aaron finds little ways to break through peoples apathy and religious skepticism. I also noticed where Pastor Aaron is coming up short. The man is very busy with a wife and five children, but he lacks a certain amount of connectedness with the congregation. He's always “busy” so people like myself have learned to just no longer even inquire about assistance or questions we might have. That is a serious problem, but I could see the same problem with myself. After investing hours in writing a sermon, getting their early, presenting the sermon, and taking care of all the other church business I'm gonna want some time to myself. Developing friendships and relationships is a hard thing to do, and an even harder thing to maintain. I've seen only a few ministers who do it well, and they're usually highly relational and charismatic in their style. They're people ministers. Aaron and I are very much not so much people ministers, but message ministers.
I learned a lot from my interactions with Pastor Dan as well. Once again Pastor Dan is powerful in his message and presentation of scripture, but lacks in general relations with the congregation. He is not particularly charismatic and tends to be rather awkward. This is something Pastor Aaron, Pastor Dan, and I have in common. I've noticed that Pastor Dan doesn't seem to make a lot of use out of the internet. The internet and internet outreach will be key in my ministry and it already is. I've noticed something both pastors could learn from is a style of growth used in politics called grassroots activism. I intend to constantly promote a message of grassroots evangelism in my church and/or ministry. Grassroots means that since there isn't enough money to really go out in force, the entire congregation takes on the duty of bringing in new people. Grassroots is strong with constantly pushing the message on the internet, hanging up posters and leaving business cards in the community, making phone calls, and just bringing in friends. It's been used effectively in political campaigns with short money such as the Ron Paul 2012 campaign, and I intend to formulate a similar model of evangelism in my church.

PART FIVE: My Fit in Ministry (After): I believe I'm on the correct path in ministry. I'm just getting my feet wet in the various churches and organizations in my area. I'm just learning at Liberty University what it really means to minister to people for God. My conversion date was less than a year ago, so I feel like studying and investigating a wide variety of ministry options is a good idea. I'm learning so much day by day and it's an incredible process. I've learned huge amounts of useful information in the course and I hope and pray that the knowledge stays with me and that I apply it well. I feel like I'm on a good ministry path so far. I'm learning the value of prayer, church planting, 12 step recovery, and personal Bible investigation. I've also found it highly effective to journal in my blog about my growth, and share little nuggets of wisdom I encounter on the way. This helps me to remember what I'm learning and maybe help some people along the way. I started my blog last March when I got baptized and I've had around 12,000 views on it so far. I'm very excited about the path before me. The chapter on prayer and how the great ministers and evangelists always prayed a lot deeply impacted me. I was praying three times a day and I thought that was good, but after learning that Martin Luther spent two hours a day in prayer, I realized I needed to set more time aside for it. I've been getting better with that. I transferred my major from religion to Christian counseling. I figured I would learn more about practical application of Christian principles by studying Christian counseling classes.
My next steps in ministry are fairly clear to me. I need to continue getting good grades at Liberty University. I need to continue to investigate spiritual principles as much as I can. I need to continue to find ways to be more relational and confident. I also need to break past my fear of one on one evangelism and start talking to more people I see throughout the day about the gospel. I would like to study apologetics as much as possible as well. I asked God in prayer to help me intellectualize my faith, and while watching the live stream at Liberty University I saw the video from graduation last summer where Ravi Zacharias spoke. In the last few weeks I've ordered several of his books, watched a dozen of his talks at universities, and starting incorporating his angle on evangelism into my blog sermons and writings. The message of apologetics is powerful and being a recovering self righteous intellectual, I could certainly see myself ministering to others in that area.
I'd have several key suggestions for people going into ministry. I would urge them to remain humble first. I would also urge them to pray constantly, and seek to have a strong message of encouragement and practical application. I would urge them to be very evangelical in their approach to ministry. I would urge them to consider inner transformation as the first key when beginning. I would also urge them to reach out and show uncharacteristic compassion and patience with people who are lost. We need more of that in the world today.