August 21, 2013

God’s Work In God’s Way – What Is My Ministry? (Proper 21c)

The Call of Jeremiah (1.4-10) reminds me of  Interim Ministry. It is also a teaching on what all Baptized people may be called to do. What is God’s work? What does God want us to do? These are important questions right now at St. Magloire’s as we begin implementing our Strategic Plan. Our task is to develop a model of ministry leadership which is not priest dependent and help each person discover their gifts for ministry and move into a ministry where they can succeed and grow. But we are not to do this in the usual human way of people fighting for power and control. We must begin by surrendering our way to God’s way – the way of self-sacrificial love.

1. What is God’s work?
Jeremiah is called to the ministry of a prophet. This is the most dangerous ministry of all. God calls prophets to challenge religious and secular authorities – often to rebuke them and warn them of disaster if they do not change their behaviour. The work of an Interim Priest is to challenge a congregation to heal past hurts, find a new direction, begin moving in that direction and help new people move into leadership. The focus is always on what God wants to do in this place – not on what we want to do.
·         God’s work is to reach out to individuals – like Jeremiah, you
·         God reaches out to develop a personal relationship of love
·         You shall love God with all your heart – to develop commitment (Deuteronomy 6.1-3)
·         You shall love  God with all your mind – to develop knowledge
·         Love God with all your strength – to develop kingdom  workers
·         Love your neighbour as yourself – to develop people who love

2. How can God reach out to people in love through me?
The first step in any ministry is to engage people. The simple Cursillo approach to this is to “make a friend, be a friend and lead a friend to Jesus”. Many people are just naturally friendly and interested in other people. This is their spiritual gift.  It points to a call to a serious ministry of friendship.
·         Our Strategic Plan noted that St. Magloire’s needed to be more friendly and welcoming to visitors and newcomers
·         Tara suggested we re-establish a coffee time – and two weeks later provided coffee and delicious crumble after the service
·         This enabled me – and others to have some brief but important conversations that reached out to everyone present

3. How can God reach out through me to develop commitment?
Commitment often comes from personal experience. We can reach out to others by sharing our personal experiences of God. People are interested! The other side of this is we can develop our own experiences and commitment by learning to trust the leading of the Holy Spirit in decisions.

4. How can I help God develop knowledge of God?
In our Strategic Plan we noted a hunger for spiritual teaching in the community and planned to re-start a Bible Study or Book Study group in the Fall. In my community visiting I have identified people with a gift for teaching. We are also talking about sponsoring an Alpha Course – another opportunity for - ‘those who know to tell those who don’t know’.
·         All need  to read our Bibles, pray and learn to seek the Holy Spirit

5. How can I help develop Kingdom workers?
Passengers on the ship of life will never become workers if they are not invited and encouraged to be part of the team. There is often a pattern of work in churches where a few people do all the work, complain about being overworked and yet do not really invite and encourage others to help. Those who have taken responsibility need to be supported and encouraged by others – with real and continuing offers to help.
·         Everyone needs something to do to give meaning to their life
·         Our task is to invite people to discover their gifts and ministry
·         Everyone has some gift that can be a ministry – intercessory prayer, music, teaching, administration, pastoral visiting, leading worship etc.

6. How do we develop people who love?
Jesus modeled self-sacrificial love of God, self and neighbour. This is not easy in a world where many people have been wounded by experience and are ruled by fear. The challenge for us is to be a sign of God’s love in the world:
·         We all need to first seek healing and forgiveness for the past
·         Healed and forgiven people are transformed by their experience of God’s love – they radiate the love of God
·         By becoming a person who models self-sacrificial love of God and God’s creation we show others that this is the way to joy in life.

This is how we do God’s work in God’s way!

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