The First Step in Developing a New Ministry

Have you noticed that it’s getting harder and harder to know what to do to connect with people who are completely disconnected from God?  It’s a challenge that every church (at least in North America) faces.

Photo by ...stephanie... (Creative Commons)Photo by ...stephanie... (Creative Commons)And here’s the question most churches ask when it comes to reaching out to those outside the church:

“What ministry should we start?”

But that's the wrong question.  It’s wrong because it gets the process started in the wrong way. 

Here’s how the process tends to go: 

We ask the question, get some smart people together in a room to brainstorm ministry ideas, come up with a plan or a strategy, implement the plan, and then watch as our plan meets with very little success.

Why is this?

It’s because we have no idea what's really going on "out there" in people's real lives.  We end up starting a ministry that doesn’t really connect with anyone.

So.  In order to figure out what ministry we should start, we need to back way up.

We need to start by simply listening to people in our neighborhoods.  We need to participate in neighborhood activities—moms’ groups, book clubs, walking groups, PTAs, etc.—and simply listen to the people we meet.

Should we set a goal to share our faith with, say, one person each week?

No.

Don’t get me wrong, if opportunities to talk about your faith come up, go ahead and talk about it.  But for now, we need to go into these neighborhood groups with no agenda other than to participate in the group and get to know people.

Our primary task is to listen.

Because as we listen, we begin to get a sense of what God is up to in our neighborhood. 

Then we can begin to think about what kind of ministry we can start.  And by then, the ideas we come up with will probably be way different than if we hadn’t taken the time to listen.

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