Things I Didn't Know When I Said Yes to Jesus
Almost 50 years ago I said yes to Jesus. I remain profoundly grateful that he intervened in my life as a young adult.
However, when I said yes to Jesus I didn’t realize I was also saying yes to the church, the bible and Christianity. If you were raised in church you might find that incongruous but that’s because you were raised in Christian culture. I wasn’t.
One of my first going-to-church memories was noticing how the pastor would approach the pulpit much like an entertainer approached the spotlight (I was raised in the entertainment culture). I was both impressed and confused.
It was in that setting that I first heard the “M” word (Ministry). It became clear that the person doing the most important Ministry was the person standing behind the pulpit at 11 on Sunday morning.
I was sufficiently captivated with The Ministry to spend the next 30 years pursuing it as a profession. However I consistently failed to convince enough people to sit opposite me on Sunday to enable me to make a living in The Ministry. I had a wife and three kids and no professional training so I started painting houses. A profession that has continued to support us for the past 30 years
I exited The Ministry 15 years ago but continued painting. I started doing ministry projects I loved such as exploring new ways of doing evangelism. I began writing about these explorations and periodically gathered people for events where we would share our findings and introduce potential travelers to seasoned explorers.
This was the Off The Map era.
During this time I met people from all walks of life, men and women, gay, straight, people of color, hell, even atheists made my list – who were doing things I considered to be ministry. Some of them like me had been in The Ministry, some of them were still in The Ministry but most of them were people who just doing what they found natural to do as they tried to follow Jesus in their ordinary life.
It was at this point that I began to redefine ministry as “the desire to serve others in my world in partnership with Jesus”
While some of these people wrote books, and a few of them spoke in public, there was one practice they all shared - they listened to people. Listening was the virtuous germ that persisted across all expressions of serving. Listening was their consummate act of ministry.
Here’s what I wonder now, instead of celebrating orators and public speakers, what if being a world-class listener became the criteria the church used to determine who was and who wasn't “doing ministry” – that’s the kind of church I want to help invent.
I’ve found myself deeply conflicted by the confusion I inherited around the M word. I also became convicted about my participation in propagating The Ministry as a profession where (similar to the entertainment business) the real Ministers were the ones upon whom the spotlight shone, the gifted orators and those who were paid the most money.
These are the issues that have driven me to produce this event we’re calling Hack the Ministry. Live events are to me what an easel is to an artist or an instrument is to a musician. Something dynamic, unpredictable and sometimes transformative happens when people gather together for an immersive experience.
Face time trumps Facebook everyday.
Hack The Ministry is my attempt to redeem the M word.
To expand the meaning of ministry so that it includes everyone
To tell young followers that the institution called The Church has made a promise to you about The Ministry it cannot keep.
To tell veteran followers that you don’t have to live with the stigma of failure because you didn’t make it in The Ministry – you’re doing ministry now and you know it.
To remind people that institutions, (including the church) are here to stay and most people prefer it that way.
The problem is not whether you’re doing ministry employed in the church or outside of it, its about how you define ministry to yourself and those you influence.
It’s not our differences that kill us it’s our reaction to those differences.
Let’s travel to new places in our spiritual thought life
Let's redeem the M word
Welcome to Hack The Ministry