Functional ministry. This may not be a phrase that you’ve ever heard before, it certainly was not for me when I heard it. A while back in the wee hours of the morning, around 3 am to be exact, I woke up from my sleep and immediately between that awake and conscious place and the asleep and dreaming place I heard the phrase “functional ministry”. The first place I sought to find understanding of what this meant was on a Facebook forum of church planters. After having asked what they thought this meant I received the comment: “It’s better than dysfunctional ministry!”. Haha. Okay okay.
I have to give a bit of background before I type forward. Around October 2017, I began to sense from the Lord that we were going to be moving back into a Sunday morning gathering time, away from Sunday evenings. For me, this was a big deal. BECAUSE I’d been on a one-year “sabbatical” as some would say. Basically, the Lord allowed me to find a place of rest and refueling at our Sunday evening gatherings. This meant that I was not to use that gathering time as a platform for weekly teaching. It didn’t mean that teaching didn’t happen, it meant that I was not to take on the task of weekly sermon planning, series teaching or putting any work on my shoulders to try and make Sunday evenings a certain, anything. During this time, this year “off”, the Lord restored my soul. He poured into my identity as a son of God. He showed me my worth apart from being a teacher, or leader, or pastor. And guess what, the church didn’t die. Our community of believers continued to grow in deeper relationship with one another.
As the Lord began to impress upon me the move of our gathering to a Sunday morning time, this also meant that I’d be stepping back into my roles in teaching and leading. It meant a lot of things. In the past, I’d come from a place of being overworked, exhausted, carrying a load that was never mine to carry, and many other unhealthy things that young, eager leaders allow themselves to bear. I believe what the Lord did in this past year was prepare me for what was to come. To step back into my gifted roles in the body.
Now, having many thoughts and opinions on the way “church” is “done”, ( bear with my use of air quotes, not everything means the same thing to everyone, and some words have no business being utilized in sentences with other words ) I was worried that what we would start would turn into the same old thing that we’ve always done. Quite frankly, what most everyone else is doing. I get that it’s different all around because of the heart behind the matter, but I wanted it to accomplish something. To be something that accomplishes something. This is where this phrase comes in.
— of or having a special activity, purpose, or task; relating to the way in which something works or operates.
— designed to be practical and useful, rather than attractive.
*Thanks to Google Dictionary.
There it is! The Lord gave it to me. “Of or having a special activity, PURPOSE or task”. AND, “designed to be practical and useful, rather than attractive.” YES!!!!
Functional Ministry is meant to accomplish a purpose. It will do something, and be something. A useful, purpose-filled MINISTRY. Ministry meaning: service, like waiting a table. It’s involved, servant-led servant-hearted selfless purposeful time together, growing in the Lord, loving each other and preparing for our ministry in our respective, daily life contexts.
AND, it’s not designed to be attractive. But wait, what if we turn people off? What if visitors don’t come back? You should certainly put some thought and strategy into the way things look, feel, smell, sound, and attract people to what you’re doing! Well, my friends, functional ministry doesn’t start with building something that you think is going to attract the masses, it starts with function in mind. As we’ve heard it, form follows function. What it becomes will be determined by what purpose it accomplishes, not the other way around. We don’t build a ministry to look and sound and feel a certain way so that we know people will want to come.
Jesus did just about everything he could do to get people to not follow Him. I know that sounds crazy. But he was sifting people out of the disciple dish once the crowds got larger. The function of his ministry would not take on a form of phonies. He wanted the people following him to be in. In like Flynn. Not there for the wrong reasons. Not there because he gave them food, or performed many miracles. He laid out the cost of being a disciple, and many turned away. Jesus could have a set up beautiful, earthly kingdom had he desired. He’d have put Solomon to shame. You think that guy did it up? If Jesus wanted to build a ministry that attracted people because of how beautiful the temple was, he could have. You get the point.
Functional ministry. This is our heart for our Sunday morning gatherings. We will seek the Spirit’s leading as to how to minister right then and there as we are together. I could teach for hours on why you should, for instance, forgive your brother if he wrongs you. I could talk all about how it hurts you, it hurts them, if you don’t forgive then the love of the Father is not in you, etc. etc. There you are, sitting in the gathering feeling terrible about unforgiveness. You hear “See you next week!” and you get up and leave the building, unforgiveness still existing deep within your heart.
Imagine then, if you will, this scenario. You hear me teach about unforgiveness and the Holy Spirit is showing you where it lives in your heart. Then you hear me say “Now we’re going to lead you into a time where we will approach the throne of grace, to receive mercy and grace in your time of need.” And as we lead into this prayer time, you, right where you are begin to engage in conversation in your heart, led by the Spirit in you, with the Father and you present to Him all of your unforgiveness. You hear us remind you that you are covered by the blood of the lamb, and that all of the unforgiveness you just confessed guilty to is washed away because you’re in Christ. Although you are guilty because of your actions, you’re deemed NOT GUILTY because of the actions of Jesus on your behalf. What freedom! This, my friend, is functional ministry.
We invite you to join us at Disciple Community where we seek the heart and face of the Father. We approach the throne to receive our grace and mercy in our time of need. We walk in with heavy hearts and convicted consciousness, except we leave cleansed and unburdened because what we just experienced accomplished the freedom in the Lord that scripture speaks of. It did what it was supposed to do, and that is what makes it attractive.