Satisfying the Hunger... is a blog written by the ministry staff of Evangelism & Church Growth
I stopped selling ministry widgets years ago. I know it’s a strange way to start a blog, but have you ever in your ministry felt like you were selling widgets? Have you ever felt like a church or ministry of the church was selling you a widget?
Widgets can be anything really – but they are a representation of something we “sell.” If we are out there “selling” our ministry to get people to join us, fill our conferences, pews, or missions, we are submerging ourselves in the current societal context.
Where is Jesus when we are out “selling?” I can’t believe that Jesus ever contemplated his invitation to a life transformed through following and believing to be packaged and sold. I also don’t believe that we really realize when we are doing that. I sure didn’t. I thought I was doing my job and fulfilling my call. It wasn’t until later that I realized I was getting in the way of Christ transforming people through the ministry I was called to by selling it.
Let me take a moment to confess how I camp to “sell” ministry.
I have had the pleasure of being a called to lead camp and conference ministries for 10 years. I have seen the love of Christ transform lives through the faith filled and Holy Spirit led communities of summer camp. That’s where Christ transformed me. Where the love of God, through Christ and the Holy Spirit embodied in the accepting love of my counselor changed me from a scared and totally “uncool” seventh grader into a scared and totally “uncool” seventh grader who knew he was loved for who he was and not for what he did.
Unfortunately, in my attempt to share that transformation with others, I packaged Jesus and the transformation of camp and conference ministry.
As program director, each spring I would go to churches and talk about camp ministry. My hope was that they would hear what I said and decide to send their children to camp that summer. My personal goal was to get them to camp so they too could be transformed. But, unfortunately, I did it by selling widgets. I would get up in that pulpit and tell them all the wonderful things they would experience, all the fun they would have, how great we trained our counselors, and how great our scripturally based curriculum would be that summer. Parts of the ministry packaged into quantifiable “widgets.” I might have told a few stories, but I didn’t let God’s transforming love work through me.
It wasn’t until I had been doing that for years that I was shown through the efforts of others in ministry - a new way to invite folks into the camping ministry. In one such experience, I was sitting in church a few years ago when Michael Megraw, the program director that followed me at Heartland Center, stood before the congregation and spoke about camp. He spoke about how Jesus had transformed him at camp. He spoke about how he saw specific campers and staff transformed through camping ministry. He then invited the congregation to pray for that summer’s camp and all who would attend that they too might be transformed through Jesus Christ. It was not until he spoke his heart that he invited parents to visit camp and send their kids so that they too would be transformed.
So I will never intentionally sell a ministry widget again. I try in all I do to be a witness to the transformation of Jesus Christ that occurs all around us and invite others to experience that transformation too. It has made all the difference in my life and faith – and honestly, it transformed me again.
Where do you find yourself selling ministry widgets? When have you been sold a ministry widget? How can you re-focus sharing your ministry stories in ways that are invitational and transformative without being vehicles to package and sell the love of Jesus Christ.
Unbox Jesus. Please, please, please. Stop selling your ministry as a widget. If you do, I know you will be transformed again, and Jesus will be free to invite others to be transformed through your faithful work in ministry.