Ministry Journey Blog

Thoughts on Ministry

22 Feb

A quote on youth ministry-moses style

Posted in Uncategorized on 22.02.10 by Merlyn

I love youth ministry. Really, there is nothing better. The authenticity of youth is profound. The adventure is kingdom-like. The journey is always filled with the Holy Spirit. Right now, I cannot resonate with this quote at all, because the current ministry setting I am is truly divine. I have felt this way in my career however. I have felt this way as a parent. I have felt this way about life and faith. It is the very nature of ministry–there are ups and downs; times of trial and disappointment, joy and pain….and yet…..

in the midst of it all, I would not trade a moment of it for anything. Are you in awe of the story God is writing in you? In your ministry? What does it mean to be truly called? To be working in the area that you are called, gifted, and passionate? What power in becoming and doing what THE CREATOR of the world made you for. There is no greater joy. In the words of an icon of youth ministry:


“What a ride!”

No Comments »

20 Feb

The Christ

Posted in Uncategorized on 20.02.10 by Merlyn

The quote above came in an email this week from a church that we had been attending on and off in between various church jobs. I have been thinking about this statement this week quite a bit. Honestly, I could not have said it better. The statement is true, and my increasing angst and fear for the church in America is rooted in the decisions we are making–that we are allowing the culture to shape us more than we shape the culture. We are being transformed by the world instead of transforming it. Evangelism is a dirty word; or at best its a religious word for marketing. Certainly God continues to reveal himself to us, and as we discern that (and test it against scripture) things do and will change, however we have completely lost touch with our source. Its unfortunate. It will be our death and while the church will never die, many of our churches and denominations as we know them now will. They are already on the path, and in many cases we can only hope that it does not change instead of continuing to move down the slippery slope. We have lost our center, our source; The Christ. My soul aches, but there are still some that want to move forward creatively and reach our culture while renewing our focus on Christ; the foundation of our faith.


No Comments »

18 Feb


Posted in Uncategorized on 18.02.10 by Merlyn

There is nothing we can do in life without failure. Our culture gives us mixed messages about failure. On the one hand we are expected to be successful, near perfect in fact. Our mistakes are costly and often meant with painful consequences and interactions. On the other hand, I cannot count the number of times in training, leadership conversations, and in life in general that I have heard failure lifted up as a good thing-something that we can learn from. The message that failure is normal and that is how we learn the best; that if we are no failing, then we are not really risking or moving forward. I hate to fail. I especially hate to fail in ministry, because it often leads the pain for others, when as a Pastor, my heart aches deeply when my errors cause pain for others. Today’s devotion from Oswald Chambers got me thinking more about this. For God, what does failure mean? Certainly God has come to expect it. Certainly God loves us in spite of it. The quote above provides an interesting perspective. Perhaps God’s greatest concern in the midst of our failure is not if we will repeat it; but if we will dwell on it. Will we allow the evil one to keep us focused on our failure so we can never move forward to the next opportunity? Where are we allowing failure to prevent us from dreaming, doing, risking?


Beware of Failure…not failure itself, but its power over you; a profound message for all in ministry.

No Comments »

08 Feb


Posted in Uncategorized on 08.02.10 by Merlyn

In a two month period I have now heard from denominational leader(s) from two different denominations that their particular denomination/institution is the church and is to be loved, and to not be a part of it and to not love it is to not be part of the church. It was never said in that exact way each time, but the principles were clear. I have been thinking about it. I do not think that one should ever love an institution—ever. Perhaps it is our love of the institutions around us and the focus on structure and the organization that is assisting in the death of the church. I love Jesus. I love people. I think we should only love that which God creates, and not love that which we create. I have been talking about this in some online courses and with others, and the perspectives vary. Of course there are those who have held the position described above. Others have suggested that we need organizations/structure/hierarchy/institutions. My argument back…did Jesus need these things? Did the early church need or have these? Did the movements started by folks like Wesley and Luther need these?  Not so much. If you follow corporate/organizational life cycles, you do see that movements need to organize and that is part of the flow of things, however if you keep looking and reading, the steps that follow are decline and death, so when we get to the place of institution we must either have a re-birth, move back towards a movement, or prepare for death. Institutions are not inherently bad, but there tendencies are not always good. I do not think they have a place at all in the church or the kingdom of God…and if we continue to focus on them, I am afraid the local american church as we know it will die. The church will never die, but our current expression may die, and may need to die. The Emergent’s have been preaching this, but there are two areas where I do not resonate with them. First, I do not think we have to start over or walk away from all mainline churches. The movements that started these denominations are still very powerful. Second, I do not think we have to reject everything organizational, and they too have started to “organize.” This whole conversation truly is a part of my ministry journey, and these are just my thoughts as they stand today. There is still much to discern and pray through, much to think about and wrestle with.

Come Lord Jesus, Come. Save us from ourselves so that we might live out your Kingdom!


No Comments »

02 Feb


Posted in Uncategorized on 02.02.10 by Merlyn

Presence is everything in ministry, especially ministry to people (get it ). The notion of ministry of presence comes from several sources. The first starts at the creation story in Genesis. We were created to be in relationship; in relationship with God and with each other. It is impossible to be in relationship without presence. The greatest notion of ministry as presence comes from our example of what ministry and the kingdom of God (or God’s dream) are supposed to be. I am referring to the life and ministry of Jesus. We underplay the incarnation–God became flesh and moved into the neighborhood (John 1 from the Message). God came to earth to be with us, to be present. The ministry of the Christ was all about presence, presence with his father, presence with his disciples, presence with all whom he encountered. There were no rushed events in Jesus’ ministry, it was always about presence. Ministry is most powerful when we are most present.  I came across this quote from Ron Rolheiser in my Presence journal:

“We pay a lot of lip service to presence in society and spiritual circles. Sometimes we don’t admit that it’s the single most difficult thing in the world. It is hard for any of us to be in the present moment because the past and the future are always playing into our lives. We’re worried about our own agendas, heartaches, and headaches. As I say in the Shattered Lantern, narcissism, pragmatism, and restlessness are always trying to take us away from the present moment. So, its hard to be present for each other.”

There is a deep craving for community in our world, and it’s because we lack presence.  How can we be more present? How can we look to Christ to really understand what the ministry of presence means and could be?



No Comments »

01 Feb

Consumer Christianity

Posted in Uncategorized on 01.02.10 by Merlyn

I have been thinking a lot about consumer Christianity lately. It seems to me that rather than the church transforming the world, the opposite  has happened and the world has transformed the church. This is profoundly true in our consumer approach to church. Churches now rather than developing an identity and core set of ideas then leading and doing ministry out of those values seem to be focused on attracting and retaining people. We treat church like McDonald’s and even use phrases like “church shopping.” Whatever happened to joining a community of faith and then sticking it out, being a part of the community as much as possible recognizing that you can be a part of problems and solutions. We say things like “I did not get anything out of that sermon,” or “I just am not getting fed” as if church is a restaurant or big box store. Evangelism has become a fancy religious way to say marketing. Of course we do not want to be a church who does not care for people, but do we trust God? Do we trust that if we listen to the best of our ability, and seek to find and live our identity in Christ that God will bring the right people to us? Do we believe the analogy of the vine and that God will grow, prune, and help us bear fruit? The church can never be more attractive or entertaining in the world. We simply cannot compete on that level. The good news is that we are not called to. We have the same gospel message that has endured and will continue to endure, and if we do our best to live that out and offer that to others, our churches will be as they should and we can save McDonalds for lunch.


No Comments »