Read this today in Invading Secular Space:
The average Western church is organised to survive. A few are organised to become large. But I know of few churches in the Western world that are organised to nurture life in such a way that they multiply.
Interestingly (for me anyway) this coincided with the arrival of this month’s YouthWork magazine which carries an article looking at gap year schemes. At one point the article explores the issue of whether a gap year is just ‘cheap labour’ (to put it bluntly); is it learner focused or mission focused? Is it about developing the person or about achieving a ministry aim? It’s tempting to say something like “Both – you can’t achieve one without the other” but I believe we have to be clearer than this because when there’s a clash of priorities something is going to give and in cash strapped youth ministry, ten-to-one it’s going to be the ministry aim that comes first. We’ll justify it, of course, by saying that this kind of pressure is part of the real world of ministry.
When Amy came to work with us on our Apprentice Year Scheme we were both clear about the point of the year – it was to provide a solid foundation in preparation for her starting on the CYM degree course in Youth Work and Applied Theology. Amy did loads of youth work with us and with her church but becuse we were clear about the purpose our focus was on whatever we could provide that would help her to develop and to gain good youth work experience in preparation for her course.
The bigger issue that the quote at the top got me thinking about is how we’re equipping people to fulfil their ministries and then releasing them to multiply the work of mission. It’s easy to see how we might train people to do more of what we do, therefore making our work ‘bigger’. But I’m interested in working out how we help people to develop the gifts and passion that God has placed in them that may well be on or even beyond the fringes of what we do.