The Impromptu Nature of Ministry

Anecdotal posts are sometimes called for in order to illustrate a point.  This is one of those posts.  One of the things that I had supposed about ministry but which is much more vibrant than I had anticipated is the impromptu nature of ministry.  By this, I do not so much mean emergencies, though those do count, but the seemingly random opportunities that crop up here and there.

A number of months ago with my church’s vision team, we put together plans for a Summit on Ministry and Mission with People Experiencing Poverty.  Originally, we planned it for Saturday, April 23. We found out, however, that we were accidentally in competition with the larger church’s workshop occurring that same day.  So, we switched the Summit to Saturday, April 30, the following Saturday.  Then we began working on it.

During the time period in which we were piecing together the schedule, the speaker, and the accommodations, I was doing some sort of work in my office when, suddenly and unexpectedly, a man whom I had never met before dropped into our office to speak with me.  His name was Don, and he is a retired pastor.  Nowadays, Don spends his time networking people; this is his new mission in life.  He sits down, and we just start chatting.  Somehow, we arrive at the topic of the Summit that Salem is about to hold.  He takes a flyer, and shortly thereafter, he leaves, bidding me goodbye.  It all happened so fast.

I didn’t quite know what it all meant at that moment.

A couple of months later, which was last week, I receive an e-mail from Don and the former Vice President of one of the largest charity structures in town, Cherry Street Mission.  They were going to hold their own Summit in May, but their guest speaker had to push the event back into the Fall unfortunately.  So, they wanted to get in on our Summit, which I thought was great.

I met up with the former Vice President, who is now a pastor of a local congregation himself, and we had a good time chatting and getting to know one another.  So he invited me to take a tour of the Cherry Street Mission.  Today was that tour.  (And the tour was very helpful, actually, as it made me realize how much more was out there.)

Cherry Street 1

The funny part, however, is that the “tour” was much more than just a tour.  There was a business meeting and a catered meal as well.  I was in a nice polo and khakis, wanting to be presentable but somewhat casual for the tour, but almost everyone else was dressed in finely tailored suits.  I had no idea.

Accidentally stumble into a business meeting and you may find good food there...
Accidentally stumble into a business meeting and you may find good food there…

So at first, as the only Millennial there, I really stuck out.  In talking with various folks, from all sorts of churches and denominations and places in the Cherry Street organization, it all started to come together for me.  I met some really great people.  I had no idea that was going to happen.

I’m not suggesting that this is an incredibly special instance of ministry, but what I am trying to get at is that crazy, unpredictable, beneficial, and fun side of ministry that is so hard to describe.  How does one explain and present the impromptu nature of ministry?  How does one talk about riding this strange whirlwind?

Plans are good.  Vision and mission are necessary.  But within those, there is always present some impromptu aspect, a roller coaster of the Spirit, if you will.  Perhaps it is a little noob-ish for me to be so fascinated with the impromptu nature of ministry, but no matter how much it happens, the fact that it happens at all, and so often too, is simply amazing to me.

It is written, in multiple places, “Sow the wind; reap the whirlwind,” which is not meant as a good thing in scripture.  But, in life, I think a good motto might be, “Sow the Spirit; ride the whirlWind.”  It can lead to some very interesting places and spark some very interesting new beginnings.

One comment

  1. Mike, I’m glad there is good Spirit stuff bubbling up around you. And it is wonderful to read your blogs and hear your “voice” again!–Jodi

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