Ministry – An honor, joy and challenge

Ministry done under the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is both an honor and joy - and also a challenge.

I recently was at a church where the pastor's ministry is so marginalized that he cannot function. Thankfully, most settings are not this bad. What a joy when I see harmony, peace, encouragement, and kindness in a congregational setting. I am glad when I see a pastor publically praise and thank a congregational member. We are called up to build up the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16, 31-32). 

Recently, I was in Chicago at Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit in Elk Grove Village, IL. The congregation honored two of their members, Randy and Kathi Mode, who spearhead Holy Spirit's “Packages 4 Patriots” (P4P) ministry. We, as a District, also honored them.  But I so enjoyed hearing Pastor Tim Manwell honoring the Modes in front of the rest of the congregation, and thanking the congregation for their tremendous support in 55,000 pounds of packaged items over a four-year period for our military people around the globe and at home. What a great spirit I witnessed!

However, what I often see in many of our congregations is a lack of follow-through. Too often in ministry, there are blown opportunities by not seizing on that opportunity, procrastinating, or leaving a project or godly work uncompleted. For example, Vacation Bible School opens up doors of witness to un-churched families in the community. Good follow-through by the pastor -or those whom he trains and equips for follow-up - results in visits on families in their homes within two weeks of the end of VBS. If there is a Baptism, what a joy when that family has been visited by the pastor and/or an elder, and a goodie basket, prepared by a behind-the-scenes member, is delivered along with an invitation to worship, Sunday School, a small group, or an opportunity.  That opportunity could be the congregation providing a way to help that person, or family, discover their God-given spiritual gifts.

Do you have some ideas on this subject to share? And then, armed with such ministry service and joy in the faith and hope in Christ, where do you see your church in five years?  Rather than say, "woe is me or woe is us," are there opportunities and small victories that can be won in the Savior's name?  On looking at this over a larger period, where do you see your congregation or ministry five years from now?

In Christ, our Lord,
Bishop Dave Stechholz
The Rev. Dr. David P. Stechholz
Bishop and President, English District
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

P.S.  We invite you to share and post a helpful blog on our District website. The post doesn’t have to be very long – 500 words will do! We just want to share our personal experiences with others so we can grow in sharing the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Send submissions for review to Lynne, the District’s communication coordinator at lcobb@englishdistrict.org