The Marathon of Ministry

Through the ups and downs of life, we inevitably reach a point of tiredness in our ministry. Even more so if we are involved in intense projects!

We are roughly at the one-month countdown to the Celebration of Hope — our nation-wide outreachi. In your preparations and even in other general church ministries, you may be facing challenges and tiredness. In the churches I work with, some of them face:

  • property, governance and institutional challenges,
  • tired members, not present in church and too busy with their lives,
  • challenges within the team, disagreement or resistance to ideas.

Despite the church having a great vision, a good plan and resources, moving the church onward and persevering in ministry is like running a marathon!

The term “marathon” comes from the legend of Phdidippides, the Greek messenger sent from the Battle of Marathon in 490B.C. From the battle, he was sent to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon. He ran the entire distance — 26 miles — without stopping, burst into the Athenian assembly exclaiming “We have Won!” and collapsed and died!ii Ok, there is some doubt to the accuracy of this account but leading a church / ministry to success is often like running a marathon!

At such a time there we press-into God’s calling in order to press-on!

As we prepare to challenge our people to grow in ministry, to reach people for Christ, or even to mobilize people forthe coming Celebration of Hope, you may have reached a point where you are tired – the grind of daily life has weighed you down, andthere are even distractions and warfare that have threatened to derail your focus on your God-called ministry.

Let me share 4 ways that we can do this:

  1. Vision before Programs & Activities
    Put the heart and mission in front of people always – before the programs and activities. While every program inherently captures a vision, it’s time to distil the vision and place that before the eyes of the people.

    [18] Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he. (Proverbs 29:18, KJV)

    The word “vision” refers to a revelation or dream that seems overwhelming real. For peopleto walk in the laws of God, there needs moments when parts of the law jumps out as a vision that grips their heart and is overwhelmingly convicting. Such a conviction comes from the Bible, from metaphors and imagery that touches the heart and reminds people of the “why” before the “how” — the vision before programs and activities.

    Keep casting, breathing and reminding people of the value of your programs, and of the consequence of a Christ-less eternity of evangelism. Breathe this fire again and again in the various platforms of the church even as programs run their course!

  2. Share the One-on-One Stories
    Though you may be involved in corporate roles and programming, personally keep in touch with ministry to individuals or personal evangelism. If the ministry you are pursuing is spiritual growth, make sure you are teaching a CE class or mentoring an individual. If the ministry is Celebration of Hope, make sure you are engaged in personal evangelism.

    I’ve been more mindful of people who may need a Christ encounter in their lives. I went to a coffeeshop packed with people. Every table was filled with people still looking for seats. However, there was one man seated all by himself. Dressed like a hawker (in singlet with a towel around his neck) he had bottles of beer on his table, with all surrounding seats empty. So, I approached him to ask to share a table with him, to which he agreed. We both sat in silence, until I asked him how he was doing and what he was here for. To which he unveiled his story of renewing his hawker license and having to wait a couple of hours and losing business in the interim. He shared a fascinating history of bidding for hawker stalls, how much it cost, how to by-pass certain requirements, etc.! I was about to leave when I just said a parting “God bless you I’ll pray for your application”, he asked if I was a believer! He shared he had been a believer but had not been able to go to church. He also felt burdened to kick the habit of drinking. I prayed for him in my halting Mandarin, blessed him before going on my way.

    I met another Hawker whom I buy pancakes from regularly (I love pancakes!). He was closed for a a season. When I asked why, he shared his mom is in hospital. As he shared more about his mom, I expressed a sympathy for him. I hope to bring Christ into the conversation and to bless him somehow.

    the individual interactions you have will touch your heart in a different way from corporate programs

    When you encourage your people to be involved in one-on-one ministry, and practice it yourself, more than just setting an example, the individual interactions you have will touch your heart in a different way from corporate programs — it will put a face and name to your efforts and stir compassion in you as you champion the ministry.
    Draw out such stories from your church members and show-case them at the pulpit and announcements. It reminds people that at the centre of the ministry are names and faces of loved ones yet to experience God or yet to know Christ!

    it will put a face and name to your efforts and stir compassion in youas you champion the ministry

  3. Champions to increase Capacity
    Unavoidably, there are many ministries to run in order to maintain an organized church. If the pastor or key leader oversees everything, there will come seasons where there are too many things to focus upon. Inevitably some important ministries end up on the “back-burner”. They get neglected for a season and may lose out on an important window of opportunityto grow it!

    If the pastor or key leader oversees everything, there will come seasons where there are too many things to focus upon.

    A solution is to increase capacity for that ministry by raising champions. Look for people who are passionate and willing to champion that ministry. Give them the responsibility of reminding the leadership and initiating some programs. You don’t have to find perfect people with all the skill-sets and time (although if you can, that’s a real blessing!). A champion may be a passionate person who had enough space of heart to trigger reminders and start some things running. A champion will serve as a conscience and triggerfor the larger leadership to get back to that ministry in the midst of many ministries demanding their attention. Once these champions initiate certain things, the larger leadership jumps back to that ball-game and pushes those things from the “back-burner” to the front for that season. Without such champions, ministries bottle-neck at the limit of attention and focus of the leadership. Champions turn the attention of leaders to other needs that require a seasonal attention, and that increases the capacity of attention of the leadership.

    A champion will serve as a conscience and trigger for the larger leadership to get back to that ministry in the midst of many ministries demanding their attention.

  4. Prayer-Protect against Distractions
    When a church is gearing up to disciple people, touch lives and win the lost, a massive awakening of the potential of the church is about to occur! There is nothing more powerful when a community of God’s people — the church — rise as one to make concerted impact! It is at this time the enemy will strike to slow things down or even derail the ministry track.

    Some of the strategies to slow or derail are: breaking up unity, institutional/legal issues that arise, tiredness and burnout, etc. These strategies of the enemy all require different gifts and wisdom to engage, but for this article I want to underscore the core strategy of prayer. Underlying all these issues are spiritual initiatives and therefore they have to be engaged and won in the spiritual.

    There is nothing more powerful when a community of God’s people — the church — rise as one to make concerted impact!

    Raising prayer-protection often requires:

    • raise up intercession
    • sharing needs authentically
    • staying humble
    • praying deeply and consistently

    In this day and age, attacks can come from many angles. Whichever route they take, they seek one purpose—to distract and derail the church from their God-called ministry! As we gear up for the national level outreach in COH, where many people will come to Christ through the nation, in and around your community, I suspect we will see more and more distractions and things that may derail your ministry focus. I recommend a pre-emptive measure: raise prayer & protection beforethis happens!

    I recommend a pre-emptive measure: raise prayer & protection beforethis happens!

    So, how are you feeling presently in leading your ministry to success? Are you feeling tired, worn, as if running a marathon?
    Don’t give up! There is eternal impact through the work of your hands! Keep up the fight!

    [24] Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. [25] Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. [26] So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. [27] But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, ESV)


Regards,
Rev. Dr. Philip Huan, Principal Consultant Churchlife Resources

ChurchLife Resources offers:

  • Training CG Core Teams in “Outreach & Hospitality”
  • Training All Members in “I am a Witness”
  • Equipping CG leaders to Recruit and Raise Core Teams

Contact [email protected] to find out more.

Photo by Louis Moncouyoux on Unsplash

i A combined effort between several national Christian organizations for a nation-wide outreach rally on May 15-17, 2019. See www.celebrationofhope.sg.
ii https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marathon(09032019)



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