Missions is….Staying Home

Last Wednesday I woke up with a bit of a sore throat, raspy voice, and a lack of energy. It wasn’t anything serious, just the beginnings of a small cold that comes form weather changes 1 and my sleeping with an open window.

Normally I’d just drink some tea to soothe my throat and go on about my business. But last week I spent the day at home instead, because the COVID pandemic which demanded that my immune system be strong.

My day at home became what I would refer to as a day of “rest” but its not actually that doesn’t mean resting from work itself, but resting from ministry. In other words, it was spent catching up on things that I had been neglecting.

  1. Like reading  2 
  2. Organising the house, and doing laundry
  3. Ironing cloths
  4. Editing notes for this weeks class
  5. Filing paperwork
  6. And brainstorming future ministry opportunities

These and many other jobs are incredibly important in ministry . The problem is, they are pushed out by the more public forms of ministry.

  1. Like outreach and evangelism
  2. Relationship development
  3. Counseling
  4. Discipleship
  5. And Visitation

The truth is that “home ministry” which emphasises organisation, and preparation is absolutely necessary if pubic ministry is going to be effective. Public ministry can be accomplished without the behind the scenes work, but it will be random  3 and average  4 .

While a day spent at home doesn’t give exciting experiences or stories for the missions newsletter, it lays the foundation for effective ministry.

I ended up feeling better after a morning of meds and hot tea, but stayed home always.

Because sometimes a day spent at home catching up on your to-do list is the most important ministry.

  1. Rain has been coming and going, which means we have been switching between cooler and warmer weather
  2. I was able to finish an audiobook that day
  3. You have no plan
  4. You don’t complete it with excellence

Missions is…making time for fellowship

Missions is…making time for fellowship

Earlier this week I had lunch with a Vincentian pastor, and missionary who is serving here short-term. It was a wonderful time of fellowship as we talked, shared what was going on in our churches, and encouraged one another.

These afternoons of fellowship are always an encouragement, and challenge to my heart. But to be honest they don’t happen often enough, because fellowship takes time.

True fellowship means scheduling a decent amount of time, and stepping away from your ever growing “to-do list” for a few hours. The amazing thing is even though fellowship with pastors or missionaries is incredibly important, we struggle creating the time for it.

One of the reasons why is ministry keeps us especially busy…but I don’t think thats really the reason.

The reason why is Satan hates christian fellowship

One of the greatest dangers in all of ministry is isolation. I’m not referring physical isolation because ministry means we are constantly around people. I mean isolating our “true selves” 1 from others.

Of course we must be careful not to share our burdens openly with everyone. But there must be a close circle of friends in the ministry who you can share your heart with.

Satan hates fellowship because he knows people who isolate ourselves buy into one of his favourite lies….

your the only one

Your the only one who ever feels this way

Your the only one who has ever made a mistake

Your the only one who struggles with fear or anxiety

The sad thing is the more we believe “your the only one”, the more we will isolate ourselves. This creates a destructive loop which in my opinion has destroyed hundreds of ministries. Because isolation feeds into the deeper sins such as depression, sexual immorality’, and pornography.

Fellowship, on the other hand, brings perspective that proves you aren’t the only one

  1. Other pastors are struggling with the same issues
  2. They don’t have all the answers
  3. and they definitely aren’t perfect

Fellowship does take time and energy, but it is worth every moment, because we are investing in what Satan hates.

  1. Our struggles, needs, personal prayer requests

Missions is…..checking in digitally

I was talking last night with a friend about the affect that COVID had on ministry here. “How are you dealing with how hard it has made ministry?” He asked, I gave him a confused look, so he explained . “I mean how are you going to meet individually with all of those people, and still say safe?”

I smiled at him and said “I don’t”

among the changes in daily ministry here, a great emphasis is placed on digital ministries through texting or phone calls instead of personal visits. The interesting thing is, I’ve seen the Lord use those ministries in a greater way than the face to face meetings.

There are many reasons that texting encouraging thoughts to fellow believers is a powerful ministry, but the greatest is it’s a regular or “constant” relationship.

Personal visits are better because they allow you to give your full attention to the individual. In this time the persons needs can be clearly understood, and Scriptural principles that meet their particular need can be shared. Most importantly, the relationship is greatly strengthened through that one on one conversation.

There is one drawback with the personal visits though…..

You normally only do them once a week

This is why along with personal visits, there must be a ministry of “checking in” on people through text message, or phone calls. Sadly we often overlook this part of ministry. This Is usually because our lives become too busy, or even worse, we don’t think its important

This kind of ministry is vital for the local church because its through this Believers edify, and equip one another. Satan knows this of course, so he gives any excuse he can to keep it from happening:

  1. You don’t have anything important to say
  2. You will be interrupting their important conversations
  3. They don’t want to hear from you anyways
  4. Or you can always check in later 1

The COVID pandemic has focused most of my ministry on texting or phone calls, which means “checking in” is now a big part of what I do. It’s honestly not anything serious:

  1. I share bible verses
  2. A video of a choir singing an old hymn
  3. A quick note written to encourage them
  4. Or a quote, or article that is encouraging

But those brief check-ins have had a deep impact, and now others are sending me their own digital devotionals.

The Lord through this has reminded me constant communication with our brothers and sisters in Christ is a huge part of the local churches ministry.

It is easy to overlook texting because it isn’t as meaningful as a personal visit, however there is a transforming power in a digital relationship focused on helping others grow to become like Christ.

  1. Of course “later” never really comes

Missions is….Ministering while their hearts are open

Close by the church is a house with a brother and three sisters. The Lord has allowed me to have a strong influence upon their lives through Bible stories, reading help, and church services that they would attend regularly.

A few weeks ago I finished teaching a class at the Bible College and came to visit them (hadn’t been by a lot during the class). They weren’t able to come out, which wasn’t too surprising, since we are under stronger safety protocols as a result of the COVID pandemic.

Sadly I haven’t been able to reconnect them since getting back….

It isn’t because I’m not trying

But because they no longer have an interest in me.

This actually isn’t a new thing. I learned a long time ago that as young people get older they feel as if they’re too “cool” to listen to bible stories, or spend time with me. This is actually a natural thing as the teenage years approach. I’ve learned to emphasise ministry in a Childs life before the turn twelve.

The Lord through this experience reminded me of a very important lesson…your time of influence is limited.

Satan loves to tell us that we have “plenty of time”

  1. You have plenty of time to share the Gospel
  2. You have plenty of time to get that friend into church
  3. You have plenty of time to reconcile that relationship with a brother or sister in christ
  4. You have plenty of time to train or disciple that child
  5. You have plenty of time to do that work for God

Of course he knows thats just no true

Yes there may be time for us to do those things, however the window of opportunity that God provides is limited.

The Lord brings seasons into life when our hearts are “tender” or open to His work. This can be because of age, experiences, or a special work of the Lord in our lives. It is when the heart is tender that ministry is most effective.

Because of this the devil wants to “harden” the tender heart by any means necesary. It can begin by something small, but soon that individual who loved to hear about the Lord has no interest in Him.

Our response to this is simple…..

Minister while their hearts are tender

And walk away if their hearts are hard 1.

It is tempting to focus our energy on that hard heart, particularly if there is a strong relationship there. Yet often God orchestrates this as other hearts are tender or open towards the Gospel while those have been hardened. It is far more effective to join with the Lord by ministering to those He is working on.

It was sad to walk away from a house where children used to run out at the sound of my voice, but now they just stay inside. Yet I rest in the fact that God is the one who softens hardened hearts.

It is not my job to change people…it is my job to proclaim Gods truth to those who are willing to listen.

  1. There are situations of course when the Lord wants us to continue ministering to someone whose heart is hard.

Missions is….Using Technology for Deeper Relationshps

Friday I wrote about social-media being about edification, or helping others grow in the Lord, instead of self promotion. This is absolutely true since using Facebook as my form of communication will emphasise getting likes or comments. This creates an incredibly selfish relationship that is all about “filling my emotional cup” so to speak.

At the same time, it’s important that all of us use technology to develop stronger relationships. This is especially true for missionaries who are apart from family, or prayer supporters.

the thing about Facebook or Twitter is it’s not an effective way to communicate with loved ones digitally. It CAN be used for this purpose, but it isn’t the best tool for it. I’ve been greatly helped with understanding this by Cal Newports book Digital Minimalism , which encourages us to choose the technology we use very carefully.

This has led me to emphasise direct text messaging through my apple phone or WhatsApp in SVG for communication instead of Facebook.

Texting directly (or to a small group of chosen people) has lots of benefits

  1. You can share personal information that couldn’t (or shouldn’t) be shared online
  2. You can send a message that is created specifically for them….you have them in mind
  3. This kind of communication can easily clarify misunderstandings which often take place on Facebook
  4. You can calmly discuss a controversial subject
  5. And you can feel free to share random thoughts or ideas

The greatest benefit however is your able to be “real” with the person

I love Facebook, and use it often. But it isn’t a place where you should be real or honest about struggles. I have occasionally vented online, but almost always regretted what I said.

When struggles come there should be a safe place where you can go…..

A group of friends or family that will listen to your frustrations, show concern, and give Godly counsel

Friends who have permission to call you out on weakness or failures in our life

Friends who will always be there

Sadly many of us have a strong relationship online on Facebook, but lack that deeper relationship. This is incredibly dangerous because without that inner circle of friends, we will begin to isolate ourselves.

This of course means we must have those physical friends who we can have a face to face conversation with. But it also means having a close circle of trusted digital friends when we cannot meet with ones face to face.

Technology gives us wonderful opportunities to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ through Facebook. But lets not neglect the opportunity it gives to develop deeper relationships offline