Monday, March 30, 2009

Ministry Musing: The Cost

Have you ever heard the expression, “You’re going to have to pay for it one way or another?” It holds true for most of life, even ministry. As we talk about our hopes and dreams for ministry we need to keep in mind the other part of that expression, “Nothing in life is free.” Generally speaking, I believe we have to pay for ministry in one of three ways.

The first way we pay for ministry is the obvious money. We need to pay for staff, both those leading the program and the ones supporting the program. Depending on the ministry we may need to pay for supplies and/or space to carry out the ministry. We will need to pay for them either through the church budget or generous donations, either way they will need to be paid for, which leads us to…

The second way we pay for ministry is through our time. If we don’t pay to hire a youth minister then we need people to volunteer their time to lead the youth. If we don’t hire a children’s minister to work with our youngest of children then we need people to volunteer their time to teach the children. Even when we add paid staff to run programs we need to people to volunteer and work with people. We all have our limits of the number of people we connect with and as the ol’ saying goes, “Jesus had a youth group of twelve and apparently that was one too many.” The paid ministry, then, largely becomes the resident expert who can help the volunteers stay up with the latest, most effective ways of doing ministry in their specific areas.

The final way we pay for ministry is the one we pray we might never have to use, it just simply doesn’t happen. If we desire to send a group on a mission trip and we don’t pay for a leader through one of the first two ways then it won’t happen and we pay by not having that experience. If we want to see our youth ministry grow and we don’t hire a youth minister and nobody comes forward to lead then we pay price of not nurturing the faith of our youth.

The choice, really, is ours to make. We want ministry to happen. We want ministry to grow. How will we choose to pay for it?

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