Anyone who knows me well will have heard me have a little grump about the title of this post on many occasions. Teapots that don’t pour are pretty close to the top of my list of pet peeves (badly pouring milk jugs are included).
There are many different reasons for this; the embarrassment of asking for a cloth to wipe up your table, the stains on your jeans, no tea left etc. but the main reason that it winds me up so much is that;
IT’S THE ONLY JOB IT HAS TO PREFORM!
It’s true isn’t it? It doesn’t have to tell the time, change the channel or call someone; it only has to pour tea. Simple!
The truth is sometimes I wish that they had some other jobs because then at least we could say, “it’s a shame it doesn’t pour but at least it keeps good time” but alas this is not the case! (I do hope I have not invented a new pet peeve for you)
Rant over (nearly)
Last week I was sitting with my Assistant Youth Pastor and wonderful team of interns and we were looking over the first couple of months of this ministry year and we asked them a simple question, stolen from 7 Practises of Effective Youth Ministry.
“Are we winning?”
As a wider staff team it’s a question we’ve been asking in lots of areas. As we grow as a church it seems to become an even more important question.
The guys in the meeting came back with different answers; ‘Yes’ ‘No’ ‘Not Sure.’ So I followed up the question with;
“How do we know if we are winning or not?”
Once again there was a variety of responses.
“We aren’t winning because there are still people who need hope in our community,”
“We are winning because our environments look better than they used to,”
” We aren’t winning because we have less kids than last year,”
” We are winning because we are doing more in schools this year” and on it went.
The whole thing was pretty interesting and a real lesson to me as a leader. It was really difficult for them to know if they were doing a good job or not because they all had different views of what a win was. Can you imagine a basketball team where all members of the squad had a different opinion of what it meant to win; it would be chaos. Some of them would try and get the ball in the hoop, some would try and keep it the longest, others would see how high they could bounce the ball, who was the fastest runner………. you get the picture. (I’d like to announce at this stage that I know very little about basketball)
We often think that we cast vision enough that our teams would catch it, and I really thought I did, but it is vital that I continue to do that even more than I have been. It requires even more than this though. We also need to provide clear,tangible wins that sprout from that vision that each intern, leader and volunteer can easily grab so they know whether or not they are serving Jesus, in that particular ministry, in the best way possible.
Jesus calls each of us and our churches to a specific vision. It’s why some churches are very active in a certain geographical area, age group, spiritual area, political situation etc. Our calling defines our contribution. My brother in law talks about how when we serve God in the area He has called us to then we will see amazing things happen because that is where our authority lies; and I agree. We can serve Him in lots of other areas but we will make our most effective contribution in the area we have been called to.
It is therefore important that from our calling we decide what matters in our ministry. So often in ministry we will look at different indicators and think we are winning when in fact we are actually missing the very thing God is calling us to. I’ll give you a quick example from Destination:Home, our youth movement;
The Circus is our 11-14’s church. This month we have seen more young people coming to the environment than we ever have. If we compare it to September 2011 we have seen a 54% growth. (yes, I am that precise) Now to most of us that would seem like a real win and although I was happy with increasing the number of kids involved it doesn’t make an automatic win for me.
You see I do want The Circus to grow but I want it to grow through kids inviting their friends to come along; this shows me that they are growing in generosity and their level of risk and it also shows me that this environment is being run well enough that a young person would want to invite someone. I want the young people within The Circus to increase their generosity by giving of their resources, welcoming each other and telling us stories of where they lived beyond themselves that week and finally we want to see their level of risk increase by them giving their lives to Jesus, praying for bigger things and listening and acting on Gods voice in the room. I need to look at a number of things to establish if we have won this month.
Our time and the time of our teams is precious and we need to ensure that we are spending that time in the best places and the best places are identified from where He has called us to.
We need to start assessing whether we are directed by His calling or our calendar; are we driven by His authority or our activity?
We have a calling and a purpose and it is vital we do it to the best of our ability;
I DON’T WANT TO BE A TEAPOT THAT DOESN’T POUR!
(Ps. I realise that coffee is a much cooler drink than tea and drinking it would stop a lot of hassle but I’ve tried and I just can’t stomach the stuff)