Four Ways to Move Your Ministry from Comfort to Courage

This post is the second of a two-part series for the church on how to overcome compliancy. 

1.     Avoid routines.

Compliancy is never something we seek, it sort of happens to us.  We get into comfortable routines and those routines become a way of life and we forget how to stretch our ministry wings and fly. This illustration is a prime example.

Ronald Meredith, in his book Hurryin’ Big For Little Reasons, describes one quiet night in early spring: Suddenly out of the night came the sound of wild geese flying. I ran to the house and breathlessly announced the excitement I felt. What is to compare with wild geese across the moon? It might have ended there except for the sight of our tame mallards on the pond. They heard the wild call they had once known. The honking out of the night sent little arrows of prompting deep into their wild yesterday’s. Their wings fluttered a feeble response. The urge to fly–to take their place in the sky for which God made them–was sounding in their feathered breasts, but they never raised from the water. The matter had been settled long ago. The corn of the barnyard was too tempting! Now their desire to fly only made them uncomfortable. The temptation is always enjoyed at the price of losing the capacity for flight. – Jim Moss.

Take the time to examine the routines you have as a church and ask the tough questions: Are things or customs clipping our ministry wings? Have certain practices prevented us from taking bold chances for God?

2.    Ask for feedback. 

Without guidance, a people will fall, but there is victory with many counselors. Proverbs 11:14

This proverb follows a pattern of proverbs “imprudent action brings disaster / prudent action gives security.” [1]The writer gives advice about seeking feedback or wise counsel because a leader can fritter away valuable resources.  How many leaders can you think of that surround themselves with people who only agree with them and those kind of so-called friends drag them into a foolish decisions. 

3.     Reward employees and volunteers.

I often wonder why we seem so afraid to reward those who serve so faithfully in the church?

Maybe this illustration gives us some insight. 

One morning I opened the door to get the newspaper and was surprised to see a strange little dog with our paper in his mouth. Delighted with this unexpected “delivery service,” I fed him some treats. The following morning, I was horrified to see the same dog sitting in front of our door, wagging his tail, surrounded by eight newspapers.

I spent the rest of that morning returning the papers to their owners. – Marion Gilbert, Reader’s Digest, February 1994, p. 12.

Is it possible that if we reward people for their service they will work harder, expecting more even more rewards, is thatispossible?  Is it also possible that people will lose sight of why they are serving and serve only because of the honors bestowed on them?  The other real danger is people will stop serving because they don’t feel appreciated.  Those faithful staffers and volunteers could become disillusioned by the lack of acknowledgment of their service.  Yes, I know God notices, but it would not hurt if the church honored those who sacrificially give of their time and talents. 

4.    Strike a balance

We live in a day in time where our society lacks balance.  It forces you to pick sides, there are no longer gray areas. Beliefs and traditions are not wrong unless they lead us away from God.  The push to be missional is not wrong unless it forces us to compromise the truth of the Gospel.  Our confession and mission must co-exist.  You cannot be confessional and not also be missional. You cannot be missional and not be confessional.  If you are confessional but not missional then what Paul wrote in Romans 10 is on full display, “14 So how can they call on someone they don’t have faith in? And how can they have faith in someone they haven’t heard of? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the good news.”

And we cannot preach a message that is not found on the truth, as Paul also warns in 1 Corinthians 16, “13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.”  

The church has never been more needed, but not a compromising, trendy church.  A strong confessional, mission-driven church. One which stands firmly on the truth and God’s word and preaches Christ boldly to an unconnected world.  Now is not the time to sit and be comfortable, it’s time to live out our calling. 

[1]Garrett, D. A. (1993). Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of songs(Vol. 14, pp. 125–126). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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