It doesn’t have to be complicated. We sometimes think that reaching others for Christ is all about new program, but once the shine wears off that “new” program just begins to look like every other program. Don’t get me wrong, we do utilize some effective methods from time to time that are lasting, but sometimes we roll out programs that are just dressed up models of the old ones.
STOP TRYING TO REINVENT THE WHEEL!
Uncomplicated Hard Work:
Let me touch on a sensitive topic for a moment. It isn’t about new programs. It isn’t about having more money in our corps, although at times that does help. But it is about investing time and effort into children and adults in ministry. We have to show up. We have to work hard. Most importantly we have to love and care for those we minister to. Yes we must be prepared to meet their needs. We must invest something in foundational biblical teachings, but being present in their lives means a whole lot more than just attending a class at the corps.
It takes hard work to invest yourself in people. Jesus lived with His disciples for three years. Most of us can’t do the same today, but we can certainly invest ourselves in other people’s interests and extra-circular activities outside the corps walls. We can visit them in their homes and invite them into ours. This is uncomplicated hard work because it takes a concerted effort to be intention about our “free time” away from corps activities.
Programs The Work: (YOUTH)
Sports anything. Children and teens love competitive activities. If done correctly these activities can be done with a spiritual intent and can mold and shape lives. There are many stories of professional basketball players who got their start through Salvation Army “biddy-basketball” programs. Some of these youths need an escape from their home-life. Some, in order to survive the streets need these sports programs to continue to exist because it is their only source of joy and encouragement.
Be intentional about these sporting programs though. Make sure there is an organized method to the madness and that there is incorporated in the time a spiritual element whether it’s prayer, scripture reading or even a short devotion. Children and Teens respond to this kind of program.
You don’t have a Gymnasium you say?
Is there a park or field near your corps? How about Soccer? Provide something that allows these children to feel self-worth and fun. Ministry shouldn’t be laborious, mundane and boring. It will take more effort at times on you the leader, but it is worth it to think outside of the normal “Corps Program”. If there are not any fields near your corps, perhaps an indoor activity would also suffice. Provide some measure of “home” to the youth that come into your doors and they will come back again and again…also providing food doesn’t hurt either! Food always seems to entice the hungry.
Programs The Work: (Young Adults)
Be intentional about opening up your home. Many young adults and those young married couples with children need connections and friendships. Set aside a night of the week like a Friday night to have fellowship with food and the Word. Make it personal. Watch a movie together. Share some scripture or a devotion over a home cooked meal. Take turns going to each other’s homes. I think we can confuse “ministry” with something that only happens in the corps building, but from what I have witnessed ministry can at times be more effective at informal settings like the home. Be intentional about these moments. Don’t be so informal that you forget the purpose for meeting, and at the same time have fun. When the leader is having fun those who are attending will also have fun. When we open our homes up for fellowship and ministry it speaks volumes to those we minister to, and it gains entry into some unguarded barriers of lives we could not cross while at a meeting in the corps.
Be Revolutionary In Worship:
If there was one place that we often meet resistance in corps and in our Army it is within the structure of what we know worship to be. I am not about making worship un-sacred by any means. These intimate moments with our God is vital to not only corporate worship but to our individualized worship as well. We must ever be diligent in how we present the gospel and its truths, but the tools in which we convey the message should be creative and fresh. Again we don’t have to reinvent the wheel but think creatively when we formulate our worship service schedules. If you have modern technology such as projectors and video, use them. If you do not, utilize dramas and other forms of the arts. Remember we are striving to usher the worship into the very throne room of heaven in our worship. We must introduce the sacred while we disturb the present in our holiness services. Don’t alienate your worshipers, include them!
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO TRY SOMETHING NEW!
Let me touch on music for a moment too.
This can be a sensitive topic, because we have a tune book and a red song book. Some of the words within that book are wonderful and we will not find the depth, at times of those powerful words in any praise song out there…but that doesn’t mean we must only use the red song book. We should find an even balance of both in our services. Remember it’s not about our worship style that is important it is about how we can draw the people who come to our services into worship through the songs we select and sing. We want to be revolutionary in our worship and in our music but we cannot leave our worshipers in the dust without instruction and teaching them. William Booth is quoted in saying “Why should the devil have all the good music” and he was revolutionary in his approach to “street music”…shouldn’t we be as well? Find ways to creatively present the gospel through modern songs if that works for your community.
We do not need to reinvent the wheel in order to be revolutionary. We do need to know the people we serve. We do need to be revolutionary in the ways we love the people we serve and minister to. We must rethink the way we consider what “revolutionary” to be. It will take more of a concerted effort than just doing another program. It will take more effort on our part…but the return will be so worth it! Revolutionary means we care. Revolutionary means we long to invest ourselves in other people’s lives not just at the corps building. Revolutionary means at times without uniforms we show up and simply love.
How is your ministry revolutionary? What takes all of your efforts? How are you investing yourself in those you minister to? Are you more invested in program or people? Can we rethink “ministry”?
Something more for our Army to ponder and genuinely live out today!