Ministry: A Long-Term Investment
A long time is required to make most ministries work
Article by Andrew Thorburn, High School SRE Advisor with Youthworks.
It takes six seconds from the time I log on to my computer to the time I can start using it. I got so tired of waiting, I timed it. I must say I was surprised it was only six seconds because it seemed at least 30. But even that helps me illustrate my point: in our instant world we expect everything to happen now (or sooner if possible).
Perhaps our obsession for the now flows from an elevated sense of self that seeks control and power by having things happen on demand. What drives our impatience is a frustration that we can’t control our lives even though we like to think we can.
But our craving to have things happen instantly can get in the way of solid investment in gospel ministry – especially when we give up too quickly.
I was thinking about this after talking with a youth minister who has been teaching Scripture classes and running a Christian lunch group at his local high school for three years. He was pretty excited when a couple of months ago one of the Year 8 boys from school turned up at youth group. It took three years of hard slog teaching the Bible to students who didn’t always appreciate the opportunity (note the euphemism) before seeing any fruit. In our world of instant results it’s remarkable to me that he kept going – but he did.
And just today I found out that another three students have started going to youth group. Not only that, but a girl who has been going to the Christian lunch group has come to see that Jesus really did die and rise again. She’s now counting the cost before deciding to follow Christ.
Schools’ ministry, more often than not, requires a long-term investment before you see any results.
It takes time.
Time to recruit teachers.
Time to build relationships.
Time to pray for the students, staff and families.
It’s a big investment. And often when we don’t see results as quickly as we would like or expect, it’s tempting to drop what we’re doing and go for something that looks more promising. But as followers of the Lord Jesus we walk by faith and not by sight (Hebrews 11).
Years ago I saw a Bible society article on Christianity in Ghana. The photo that accompanied the article featured a Pepsi sign outside a local eatery. In bold white letters on a black background was written, “God’s time is the best time”. And there right next to it was the Pepsi logo. I’ve always been intrigued that Pepsi would use a biblical truth in a slogan (I can’t see that happening in Australia in the near future). But the slogan was and is spot on.
Christians persevere in difficult situations because we know that the sovereign Lord will work out his eternal purposes through our meager efforts. But he will do it in his time.
So if you are feeling down that your ministry – whether at school, church or wherever – is not bearing the fruit you expected as quickly as you thought, then remember: GOD’S TIME IS THE BEST TIME.
This doesn’t mean that we adopt a fatalistic approach that never reassesses how to best use the resources God has given us. Nor will this mean abandoning prayer that impatiently asks God to act. But it does mean that our approach to ministry will be marked by trusting action and godly perseverance in the face of difficulties.
Don’t let the desire for instant results undercut your trust in God to work out his purposes in his time. If you, or your team, are finding ministry in your situation difficult, don’t give up.
Look to the Lord. Trust him. Pray. Keep going.
Who knows what God will do?
The 2010 Schools Ministry Conference will be held in three locations next February: Feb 4 - West, Feb 9 - Wollongong & Feb 13 City. Click here for more details.