Secular Ministry

Tomorrow morning I am taking part in one of my favorite parts of leading a team.  Our Children’s, Youth and Family team is spending the day off-site to work on our strategic plan.  In the morning I will be leading the team through some of Patrick Lencioni’s tools on how to develop a thematic goal.  I am pumped to use a dry erase board and lead our talented team in brainstorming what the future could look like.  It will be a great time of “strategery!”

As I think about tomorrow, I wonder how easy it would be to lead a church according to sound business principles of leadership development, motivation and management without being led by the Holy Spirit.  You would still talk “Christianese” and make it all sound biblical, but you would not spend any time in prayer figuring out how God would want the ministry to be run.  I honestly think that one could do this and meet all the marks of worldly success.  The church would grow numerically and impact the community through various service projects.  People in the church would learn what their strengths and talents were and be plugged into places where they could use these talents.  Sunday morning messages would be motivational and encouraging.  The show up front would be engaging and exciting, yet none of it would necessarily have to be Spirit-led.  It would all be done through human effort and it would look like it was successful.  How is growing a church different than growing a business and marketing a product?  How much of our “ministry” in the church is really secular?

My prayer for the last few years has been that I would not jump in front of what God wanted to do in my ministry and in my life.  There were so many times that I wanted to jump out of my job at Apple and into something different but it wasn’t God’s timing.  I firmly believe that our calling to Champaign was right in line with God’s timing.  But how do I know that the next strategic steps for the ministry at First Church are in line with God’s timing and will?  How do we truly involve ourselves in ministry that is Spirit-led not just wise from a business and management point of view?

I don’t know what my internal thoughts have to do with our meeting tomorrow.  Just saying a prayer at the beginning of the meeting doesn’t mean that we are seeking God’s will and not our own.  There isn’t anything magical about praying before a church meeting. (On a more humorous note, there were times when the pastor in me felt strange because we didn’t open Apple meetings in prayer.  I was so used to doing that coming from the church world.)  I guess I have to trust that the Holy Spirit within me and within those on my team will impress on us where he is leading us.  And that we will be open to where he is leading us even if it means that it won’t look successful as the world and even some in the church see success.


About joelnewton

I am a husband to Hillary, a father to Anna and Norah

Posted on August 12, 2010, in Church and Culture, Church Leadership, Personal. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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