as a child i played many sports: soccer, tennis, basketball, softball – you name it. i was good at most sports but not really great at one. my mom even cautioned me, “you are spreading yourself too thin.” but excelling at one sport meant letting go of other sports so that i could focus on one.
faster forward to my early years in ministry where i thought that the more we did the better our ministries were. then i heard beth moore say at a conference “you can’t do a thousand things to the glory of God” and it all came rushing back. most of my life was a more is more philosophy but i was beginning to learn that less really could be more.
i share in many of my teaching workshops that there is less on my ministry calendar 21 years into ministry than there was when i began: less programming, fewer events, and less activities. why? because i long to focus more on the one thing that matters most in my ministry – the Gospel.
the very thing that was supposed to be at the core of my ministry was often getting lost in the to-dos, too crowded calendar, and the endless cycle of the tyranny of the urgent. i am still learning, but one of the greatest gifts i have received in ministry is the ability to say “no.”
yes i am sure that is an amazing activity the church down the street does. oh i know the kids like to have lots of fun. yes i saw that other church’s pictures on facebook from their big event. why of course we could probably fill every seat if we did or gave away what that other church is doing. but is being bigger, more attractional, more fun, or more full worth losing the Gospel? when it comes to the ministry God has entrusted me with, i want to make it a priority to not only make room for the Gospel, but to protect it as the most important aspect of all we do.
so as we begin a new church year, here are some things for us all to think through as we plan, implement, and lead.
- when people leave your ministry, do they remember Jesus, or the fun they had. did they even hear about Jesus?
- do you have a filter in place to vet every idea, suggestion, or activity that is shared with you by well-meaning people?
- if you were to survey the kids/students in your ministry about the goal of your ministry, what would they say?
- what about the parents of kids in your ministry? do they see the Gospel permeating through all you plan?
- is your fear of saying “no” more about people pleasing or pleasing God?
- who do you have holding you/your team accountable to a Gospel-centered ministry?
- when is the last time you said “no” to protect the Gospel in your ministry?
are you saying “no” or spreading your ministry too thin? what are some other ways we can ensure we are doing all we can to protect our Gospel-centered ministries?