Friday, June 24, 2011
Making connections with others is an essential key to any effective ministry. Without connections there could hardly be a church. We make connections every time we greet someone at church, read from the Bible, preach a sermon, or even smile. Any minister connects with those who we are trying to serve all the time. Even beyond the Sunday morning service connections continue to be a central part of the life of the worshiping community. This can come in the form of a meeting, a phone call, or even an email. These sorts of connections are the basis of what is often referred to as pastoral care. Pastoral care is rooted in direct connections with people, but is not limited to those connections. I have learned that in order to have a good ministry of care you must be have connections beyond the walls of the church, or the church directory.
Connecting beyond the Parish or Church
Often, however, people don’t realize how important it is to have other connections, outside of the church. These connections are essential in the process of providing pastoral ministry. So much of what happens before and after a meeting is grounded in an intentional network of connections through which a pastor or councillor is able to better care for both the subject of care and for their own selves as well. Without good networks of connection ministry is constricted and pastors are tapped far beyond their skill-set, gifting, and time. Failing to have healthy networks leads to burnout, and abuse both of yourself and those you care for.
Five key networks for any healthy ministry
I would like to share with you five key networks that I think every minister should have. This list is in no way comprehensive, it is simply a list of those that I have personally found helpful. I have learned that when I don’t make time to make these networks I cease being effective in what I hope to do. If you have additional networks that you feel are essential for your ministry add a sixth or a seventh to my list. Here is my list of five networks I believe every pastor needs to have in order to be effectual.
Connection 1: A spiritual network
I can’t emphasis enough how important this network is to have. I can remember times in my ministry where my personal time with God seemed to have been left on the wayside so I could do more “important” things. When I stopped taking care of my spiritual needs I stopped having a well of living water to draw from. A spiritual network will look different to different people. For me it includes having people I can share and pray with OUTSIDE of my church community. It includes churches and retreat centers that I can go to when I need a break; it includes having a spiritual director. For you it may look different, but if you don’t have a list of people and places that will help keep you healthy you’ll be in trouble as soon as the adrenaline wears off, and real spiritual maturity is required.
Connection 2: A professional network
No minister is an island. Every ministry is part of a network of other ministries, whether they like it or not. The other members of you network include other churches, your denomination or church network, curriculums you use, conferences you attend and even the books you read. How are you using all of these resources? Are you aware of what other churches in your area are doing? Have you ever considered partnering with your denomination or church network to accomplish more then you could do by yourself? Keep the connections to other “ministry professionals” open. There are many things you may be able to do together better then as two or three groups working alone.
Connection 3: An Artistic Network
Art has the power to speak to people in ways that no argument or sermon could ever do. Art can teach us about God in powerful and transformative ways, however most Christian art is poorly done. Not only is there a lack of quality in many sectors, even that which is done WELL doesn’t always speak powerfully. Developing an artistic network means that you are always making connections with people who can communicate creatively with the human spirit. I am a very creative person, but there are some things that speak to people that I simply can’t create on my own. Build relationships with artists for it’s though art that we share God’s mystery with one another.
Connection 4: A community network
A community network isn’t hard to create, but it’s something that does take some time. Do you know your neighborhood? Do you know what resources are available to people in need? Do you know the history of where you live? Do you know the names of the people who own business around you? If you answered no to any of those questions it might mean that the community network you have needs some work. Having a healthy community network is key to serving in your community. If you don’t know what’s going on you will be blindsided by the needs that arise and clueless about how to help people solve their problems. Start conversations with people, contact non-profits in your area, listen to the challenges of your neighbors, and the opportunities that are emerging. A community network is a looking glass through which you can better see and serve your congregation.
Connection 5: An Expert Network
There are times in every ministry where a person needs help beyond what you can give them. At times like this it is important to have a good network of experts who can help them along the way. Your expert network should include people who can help others with mental needs, relationship needs, spiritual needs, physical needs, legal needs, emotional needs and addictions. By having a good network of experts you can help create a continuum of care that moves beyond your office and into a place where people can find the help and healing they need.
If you’re particularly keen, you may have picked up that these networks form the word SPACE. Creating a effective space for ministry is more then getting a place for worship, or setting up your office just right. True ministry is best done in the SPACE created by a minister who has stayed connected to the networks of connections what will help him serve effectively and utilize the gifts of those around him.
Posted by Billy Kangas at 12:34 PM
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
We Have Tumblr
I have decided to start using Tumblr as an way to post small things like quotes and conversation that I like. This page will be for thoughts that are too big for twitter (@BillyKangas) but too small or undeveloped for this Blog. TheOrant.com will remain as the center of theological conversation but Tumblr will help more fully develop the avenues we have to share theology with one another.
The Orant Media Network
Posted by Billy Kangas at 12:00 PM