I think that many of us go into ministry out of a love for the Lord, a love for people, and a love for biblical theology. But once in ministry, we realize very quickly that we are responsible for leading and managing an organization. The larger the church, the more the focus of our time moves from doing ministry to leading staff, casting vision, dealing with fundraising, and attending to the myriad demands of organizational life.
While all of those things are important, they often fail to bring that sense of fulfillment that led us into ministry in the first place. It’s sort of like a physician who went into medicine out of a love for people and the art of healing, and winds up spending most of their time running a hospital.
When the bulk of our time is consumed with life within the church-world, how do we find and form meaningful relationships with those outside of that world? After all, isn’t that at least part of what we signed up for?
The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations has provided me with a pathway for living the ministry life I envisioned in the first place— noticing others, welcoming them, being curious about their lives and listening to them, loving them and praying for them, and sharing my own faith story with them as the right opportunities arrive and as the Holy Spirit prompts, maybe even seeing them someday come to know the Jesus I do!
I have a spiritual conversation group that meets regularly, and one of our unchurched guys articulated how meaningful our times together are because he has no other forum in his life—anywhere—to discuss issues of spiritual truth. What a privilege to be able to walk with someone who is in that process of genuine exploration! It is humbling, exhilarating, relationally a blast, and it just gets better and better the deeper we go! In a micro-world where I am called to manage and measure, this brings me back to utter dependence on the Holy Spirit and the power of both Scripture and testimony. How fun to be in a setting where my greatest temptation is to keep putting my pastor hat back on with its attendant “Shell answer-man” proclivities!
Often the biggest discouragements of ministry come from the organizational side of the equation, but the 9 Arts helped my church balance that in a way that feeds our souls. What an opportunity! To help engage people in the most important journey of their life, and perhaps even celebrate their entrance into the Kingdom! I don’t know any better antidote to spiritual ennui than walking alongside someone and watching a spiritual new birth unfold!
Every person in ministry that I know feels stretched by the demands of life and the work, but practicing the 9 Arts gave me and my congregation skills to love our neighbors that are enjoyable, realistic, and able to be integrated wherever we live, play, and yes, minister.
9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations practitioner, and
recently retired Pastor of Arvada Covenant Church, Arvada, CO