Leaders who engage their congregations in taking fresh steps in ministry and mission too often find themselves worn out and burned out. There is a sense of guilt that things are not changing quickly enough, that the congregation isn’t doing enough and that the leader isn’t working hard enough.
The leader sees herself/himself as on a quest, an arduous journey, and painful obedience to bring the congregation to living God’s future.
The truth is that taking fresh steps in ministry and mission is an arduous task. The task calls for an investment of time and energy and, at times, blood, sweat, and tears. To say anything less is to not be honest about the struggle of bringing churches to see and live into their God-given, hope-filled future.
Within this reality, it is essential to grow a theological foundation that is life-sustaining and life-giving. The heart of this theological foundation for taking fresh steps in ministry and mission is:
Our journey is rooted not in “nose to the grindstone”
or guilt (these are not sustainable)
discovering how to be joyful, playful children of the King
who live his ways in his house (the cosmos).
Fresh steps in ministry and mission must be rooted in being joyful, playful children of the great King. Being rooted in this reality will sustain us through the joy and successes, pains, and tears of leading a congregation into its God-given future.
The first step in being rooted is recognizing that we are wanted by God, loved by God, and adopted by God. As Paul says,
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”
(Galatians 4:4–7 NIV11)
We have been adopted by God as his children. As adopted children of God, we are loved, and we are made his heirs. As his children, he restores us to who we were supposed to be: Children of the Great King who are learning to joyfully, playfully live the ways of the King. We celebrate being adopted children of God and the joyful journey that adoption brings us on.
It is an adoption that is based on what Christ has done, not what we have done. Therefore it is a love and an acceptance that will never go away. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Failed programs can’t separate us. Struggles with congregational renewal can’t separate us. Painful emails and notes can’t separate us. Extraordinary success can’t separate us. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord, for we are the Father’s adopted children.
If you are taking fresh steps in ministry and mission or thinking about it, stay rooted in the good news that God wants you, loves you, and adopted you. Stay rooted in being a joyful, playful child of the King.
Invite others on this journey with you, helping them to live as joyful, playful children of the great King. Together, find the path into your God-given, hope-filled future.
Does this Biblical/Theological vision help as you take fresh steps in ministry and mission? Take a moment and write a comment.