My number one personal ministry goal for 2012 has been to encourage lay leadership and to empower my congregation to make decisions, take ownership, and answer the call of God in their own lives.
One of primary ways our church is answering that challenge is by reorganizing our leadership structure and by adopting a single board model. We spent a few months tweaking this process in the fall and then the second week of January, our new board met for some planning, team building, and organizing.
But then I left for vacation. I took two full weeks off from the church. And, holy cow, did I need them.
I was exhausted. All the planning of the fall... all of the work surrounding Advent and Christmas... the build-up to the new structure and implementation... it was a lot going on all at once. Getting away was important.
If I am 100% honest with all of you, I assumed life at the church would coast on by while I was gone. I wasn't expecting any major problems. I know my folks and they are good people and would get on fine while their pastor wasn't there. They've done it before, they could do it again.
What I didn't expect was for them to take things by the reins and keep on charging forward! =)
I get back and find out that six of our leadership team attended a training while I was gone (I was hoping 2 or 3 would go). And not only did they attend, but they got together for pizza afterwards and debriefed and now want to begin meeting weekly to keep these ideas alive and to support one another. In my wildest dreams, I was hoping I might get some of our ministry leaders together once a month, and they are asking ME to meet weekly. Hallelujah!
As I was getting ready to head out of town, a new ministry was formed in about 10 minutes. Conversations went back and forth between Sunday School and the Sanctuary and two days later, we have 15 casseroles in the freezer ready to be sent out at a moments notice to folks coming home from the hospital, new parents, grieving relatives, and stressed out families.
Yesterday afternoon, I recieved a phone call from a lay person who had organized three couples to host a chili lunch after church. They don't want it to be a fundraiser, just a way for people to get together and have a good meal. All I needed to do was add it to the calendar.
I feel absolutely honored and blessed to be a part of this church right now. These folks keep surprising me, encouraging me, and you can just feel the Spirit of God moving in our midst.
I have never been a details person. I don't work well behind the scenes. What I do best is seeing the big picture. When I translate that into ministry, I truly feel called to empower, support, and connect my lay people in the work of ministry that we do as the Body of Christ. For four years, we wrestled with having enough people who trusted in themselves and God enough that they could take the leap of faith and DO ministry. I ended up doing a lot more detail work than I should have, walking beside folks, and helping them to understand they CAN do this work, too... that it is not all the pastor's responsibility.
Coming back from this vacation, seeing the work and ministry and growth that has happened already this year, I feel like we have crossed a HUGE milemarker. We are well on our way. God is good. And the church is alive and well.