“But as for you, use self-restraint in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Tim. 4:5)
Over the last few months, ministry life has been nothing short of exciting. I have watched God work in the CityLight Seattle Church, begin a new CityLight Church plant in Asheville, and begin a new CityLight Church plant in the country of Malaysia. I find myself pausing at certain parts of my day and just thanking God for His incredible work in such a short period of time. As Mark Centers said in one of our leadership meetings, “I’m just trying to let my head and my heart catch up with each another.” This is no longer a thought or an idea, it’s a reality!
CityLight Asheville has completed filling all of its roles on the leadership team. Meetings have already begun and our gatherings are in just a few months. We have ten elders training together, planning together, and praying together in order to see a major work of God take place in the City of Asheville. Over the last few days, I have been reading and studying through the book of 2 Timothy. As I meditated on the instructions that Paul gave Timothy in this passage, I could not help but to imagine what it looks like to “fulfill your ministry.”
What does that look like for me as minister of the gospel? What does that look like for the other nine leaders on the CityLight Asheville team? As I meditated and prayed over this, I decided to write down five things that would be of help to the fellow elders on the Asheville team. I shared a document with the elders, and they quickly told me that I should write an article on this subject. This article is giving the outside world an inside view of the value system of the CityLight Asheville elders. These are the five pleas to my fellow-elders:
1. Intentionally Pursue God on a Daily Basis
Let’s be honest about one thing, ministry is difficult. Some days will be more difficult than others; some days are exhausting and bitter; and some days will be uplifting and a delight. Regardless of the transformation process that God is working in your life, continue to pursue God! If we neglect this intentional pursuit, our effectiveness in ministry will be strained or limited. LOVE YOUR SAVIOR!!!
2. Intentionally Pursue Your Spouse and Kids (if applicable)
Each elder on this team MUST take time aside, at least once a week, to date his wife. This is a broad statement with a variety of possibilities. It could consist of drinking coffee and having a conversation on the porch after the kids are asleep. It could be a movie together on the couch, dinner, shopping, coffee shop, etc… be creative and intentional. Spend time with the kids each week. Put aside all work, ministry, social media, and phone calls aside to give the kids your undivided attention. To have your whole family on board in ministry is a win every time. We cannot afford to get this wrong, gentlemen. LOVE YOUR FAMILY!!!
3. Intentionally Pursue Your Calling
Each elder on this team is gifted differently from the other. It is not an accident that you are on this team. God has given each of us a special mission to accomplish at CityLight Asheville. That gift has to be developed on a regular basis. I think of what Paul said in 2 Timothy 1:6, “Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you.” Love the calling and gifting God has given you. The day we begin to disregard or detest our ministry is the day we lose our influence. LOVE YOUR CALLING!!!
4. Intentionally Prepare Yourself for Weekly Sermon Preparation
All of us will be sharpening our skills in hermeneutics and homiletics. This will be challenging some weeks given the fact that many of us work jobs, have families, and do seminary work. There will be a level of latitude to this format, but keep in mind, this is the method by which we will disciple the home, and the various ministries and small groups within the church.
Once a week, we will meet together as a team and share what we have learned from the passage assigned that week. Take notes and write an outline as if you were going to preach the passage that Sunday, regardless if you’re the one preaching it or not. This will do two things. First, it’ll sharpen your skills in hermeneutics and sermon preparation. Second, it’ll build a file of sermons for you to refer back to in the future.
After this portion is complete each week, take the overall lessons and teach it to your children before Sunday (if applicable), and then spend time discipling your wife with that text of scripture as well (if applicable). If neither of these categories applies to you, then you will need to find one person to disciple each week with the text of scripture we are studying together. LOVE STUDYING AND TEACHING THE WORD!!!
5. Intentionally Plan to Have Fun
Life and ministry with Jesus are exciting. Constantly look for Edenic moments to have with family, friends, and each other. This group of leaders is not a group of businessmen that clock-in and clock-out each day, and then go on our merry way. We are brothers! Defend each other, spend time with each other, pray for each other, and love each other. Ministry can be frustrating and stressful some days. We all need an outlet to get away from the chaos. It’s not a sin to have fun! Enjoying life is a gift from God. These are the Edenic moments that we can enjoy today. LOVE EDENIC MOMENTS!!!
Even as I proof read through these five things, I’m constantly reminded of the failures that I have made in each one of these areas in the past. However, the amazing thing about this team is that we are developing a brotherhood of leaders. This allows for accountability and intentionality to take place in order to protect each leader from pitfalls in ministry. I believe if a team of leaders can follow similar methods like this, we can fulfill our ministries in a way that pleases God and impacts our communities. Ministry is about doing life with Jesus, and with a family of likeminded believers. I plead with my fellow-elders to take heed to the ministry that God has entrusted you with, and fulfill that ministry with joy.
Grace and Peace,