Football (soccer) is a major passion of mine and it often helps me to explain things that I am trying to work out when it comes to ministry.
At its core football or sport at any level is a results based game; sure it’s the taking part and all that stuff, but taking part is a lot more fun when you win (sorry if my competitive nature is leaking out!)
But football also has another, underwritten, code which states that because it is entertainment it should look good as well. It’s why football fans begrudge success to teams whose style of play lacks skill and finesse – in these instances the result doesn’t seem to be the determining factor (unless it’s your team of course)
I am one of those fans. I’m a person who likes fairness and it grates on me when a team who doesn’t deserve to win does, I don’t like when they are rewarded with points because they kicked the other team off the park, effectively GBHing the other team out of the game.
You should get what you deserve
I often think the same about ministry. The end goal in our ministries, I’m hoping, is to see Jesus lifted, lives changed, hearts surrendered, sickness bowed, cities transformed and whatever else is specific to your calling . But imagine we only saw these “results” to the level that we deserved them. Imagine if the quality of our ministries had a direct effect on how often we saw these things occur.
“You mean it doesn’t?”
On one hand I really wish it did. It would mean we could be very direct with our volunteers and interns, warning them that poor quality work will reduce the number of healings, lives changing etc. but it just isn’t true; I’ve seen the most incredible things happen at times where I have taught horribly, planned terribly and the event is a shambles and I’ve seen Jesus pretty much leave the room at the brightest, best, video packed, pyrotechnic, planned to the hilt event.
“So why bother trying?”
Back to football. You see I strive to have a ministry with the “Barcelona” effect. For those in the dark, Barcelona are arguably, at the time of writing this post, the most successful team around and are often tagged with the “greatest team ever” mantle. This is because not only do they win matches but they win in a style that is beautiful on the eye, its a joy to watch, pass and move. Even people who aren’t overly interested in the sport can appreciate the artistry in what this team has done. It attracts a fan base that is way beyond its die hard locals, people will travel to watch them and even those not in love with football will be up for taking in a game.
At the minute I run a ministry a bit more with what I like to call “the Stoke effect”. You may not have heard of this team. Stoke are famous for adopting an aggressive, long ball style of football (a style my favoured team seem destined to never overcome.) They hussle, fight, barge and to my horror score goals and win lots of games. You aren’t going to have heard of Stoke unless you love English football and you are unlikely to go and see them play unless your team is playing them or you are among the number of die hard locals – international fan bases are few and far between.
Translated…..Currently we are seeing young people come to faith weekly, we are seeing healings more than weekly, we are active in schools in our community in a number of ways, our kids are hearing God speak to them; but at times our creativity is lacking, our planning can be shoddy, our talks are often written late and our timekeeping can be poor.
We are currently receiving what our quality doesn’t always deserve
Don’t get me wrong. I’d rather be here than in a “Wigan” ministry (don’t worry if you haven’t heard of them either) Wigan are a team that try to adopt the Barcelona style of play and end up being a great team to watch but in the end struggle to pull out the results needed and without the results attract few people to watch.
I don’t want a slick ministry with no Jesus. The problem with these ministries is that the quality of play can easily get dropped in times of pressure and this leaves you with the dreaded Blackburn ministry (sorry Blackburn fans) Blackburn have the unenviable combination of poor football and no results – a ministry no no
“But surely it’s all about the results, eh? Surely the rest is just the boring detail?
Yes and No. Destination:Home, our youth movement, has a vision to be at the heart of our youth community; to change that community one life at a time. This means working with teenagers from a variety of backgrounds and faith persuasions; showing Jesus to a tonne of teenagers who have no interest in Him. I need to reach a wider audience that our Christian fans.
I know that if we continue with what we are currently doing for too long we will be left with only die hard fans who would turn up even if we didn’t! Don’t get me wrong, I love those kids but my heart is a lot bigger than that because God’s heart is a lot bigger than that. I need a Barcelona ministry if I want to reach and connect long term with more young people. I need a ministry that they love to come to, that is good to be in, that is quality to be a part of and in the midst of it all they need to see a living and active God moving in their lives and come to know Him.
I know using the term results will erk some people but please hear my heart. We all want to see life change happen but the truth is no long ball team or ministry has ever achieved long term success. They will have had flashes and moments but long term fruitful ministry is based in listening to Jesus and strategically planning and executing a ministry that shows why a waiting world should wait no more –
It’s time to pass and move.