Ministry Inside.78

How to Kill Your Ministry

1. Live an insular life. Live as if you were on a remote island. You have probably seen ministers like this. Some live this way within their own congregations. Others exist like this within their fellowship or denomination. They live and function with their lives centered around concerns that are small and unrelated to kingdom issues. Toxic.jpg

As a result, my concerns become either the intramural concerns of a particular group/denomination or the local concerns of my congregation. As a result, I fail to see the larger issues and concerns that impact the world.

An insular ministry can be toxic! It will shrink your thinking and dwarf your faith. This is a slow death which is often painful for the congregation to endure. Unfortunately, its victims are often unaware of its presence until it has become a chronic condition.

Nothing has been more refreshing to me than to explore the issues and concerns of the world through reading, conversations, etc. If I don’t do this on purpose, my thinking will be reduced to the immediate. One way to begin is with drinking coffee and eating lunch with some people who think beyond your immediate context. Start with college students or if you are fairly young with an older, thoughtful person. As they speak about their concerns, listen intently – not to answer but to understand.

2. Sabotage your ministry with your negative, cynical spirit. Yes, as with any family, you probably see the flaws, inconsistencies, and failings of your congregation or particular fellowship. Some people become negative and cynical as they experience life or ministry. Of course, there is nothing wrong with pointing out a flaw in an effort to deal with it or in some way make it better

However, the minster who communicates more cynicism than hope has a way of wearing out a congregation. After awhile, these barbs or cynical remarks are not seen as insight or depth but as the grousing of a worn out minister. Those cynical remarks that may have been humorous at one point, now seem shallow and boring.

After awhile, some may begin to wonder: “Is there nothing good about our congregation? Is there nothing good about our fellowship?”

I have found that I cannot spend a great deal of time with negative, cynical people. I can easily take on that spirit. Often, in the mornings, I think about the attitude I want to have that day. Otherwise I can let my emotions or moods determine how I begin the day.

(to be continued)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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10 thoughts on “Ministry Inside.78

  1. Good insights! When we live focused on the inside, we can more easily forget to love others living on the outside.

    • Thank you Margaret! I really like the way you worded this reality in your comment. You are right. Being focused on the inside make it easier to forget loving those on the outside. Thanks!

  2. Excellent! Was just talking about topic #1 with some folks on Facebook. When we fail to get out of our context and learn to care about the larger world, we will feed that same lack of insight to our congregations and sometimes even offend people in our congregation.

    • Pat, you said it well. Not getting out of our context sets really does shortchange who we were meant to be.

  3. These points are defiant ways to have a toxic ministry. The key is to have a balance between focusing on the inside and outside of our church community. Great post.

    • Dan, you are so right about needing a balance between inside and outside. (Glad I found your comment!)

  4. Jim, this is a great post! I completely agree that leaders who insulate themselves are preparing for a steady diet of group think, crippling doubt and factional fissures.

    Last week, I wrote about something similar when leaders violate the bond of trust with their followers/congregants by not being up front with their doubts…I’d love to get your thoughts!

  5. You are so right. I’ve never really thought about how living an insular life could end up being the cause for a ministry failing, but after reading this post, it’s crystal clear. It’s so important that ministers be present in their community and in the members of the congregation’s lives. Thank you for the reminder!