Late last month I had the opportunity to be at the Large Church Initiative training of the United Methodist Church. It is a great opportunity to meet some of the most dynamic leaders of the larger church, but most importantly it is where some of the greatest visions of sharing God’s love get tossed around. These visions are callings to reach beyond the divisiveness of our political nature, to reach outside of our comfort zones, to find balanced and hopeful ways to invite communities of people to “love their neighbors as themselves.” This is hard work, it is not our nature as humans to reach beyond what is comfortable, we reach when it is convenient. Marketing in our country should point us to this truth. The fact is inconvenient was what these visions shared at LCI were about.
Inconvenient ministry means we have to work to make it happen. It is what my friend Jeremy Scott calls “dirty ministry.” These large churches gathered there could have spent their time patting each other on the back for the ministry they do. However, they did the opposite. The challenges presented were to seek better, more challenging, and deeply missional ways to engage their communities. Hyde Park UMC in Tampa hosted the event and they shared deeply their “Disciples Path” program. Demonstrating how they moved from being a large church simply getting more members, to challenging people to grow in their living as they became part of the church. Creating opportunity for them to ask how they can better serve their community, grow in their faith and spirituality, and learn how to be disciples. It is inconvenient to people, but it asks a higher commitment to engage the community with God’s love wherever you are. Inconvenient is biblical, it is spiritual, it is Christian, it is moral, it is life giving, and why would we ever not do this?
Then I heard Adam Hamilton, Pastor of Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. He shared the hope of raising young leaders to keep challenging and doing effective ministry. His basic sentiments were clear as he shared with a small group of young adult leaders. Adam Hamilton wanted us to know that it would be our job to recruit and demonstrate to young people the importance of Christian leadership in the world. This young adult generation will be the ones who will raise up the dynamic leaders that will bring change to the world. We are the ones now who need to pioneer new forms of ministry, models, and ideas that people can take a refine into clear ways to support people in need. We will change the world, but we need to be smart and diligent in our actions now. While Adam Hamilton was talking about the pitfalls of ministry to watch out for, his comment “Don’t Blow It” echoed in my mind. We are a generation of leaders now that need to make change in our world. As Christian leaders we are particularly called to challenge ourselves to go outside our bounds and learn what true missional Christianity is about. “Don’t Blow It” cause if we do…change is just further down the road.