Dealing with Frustrations in Ministry

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By Robert “Duane” Cragun

Ok, you have invested a great deal of time and energy in a new family, they get involved, their children develop relationship with other kids in the church, its looking good and then it happens. Maybe in a few months or, in the situation I am thinking about, after two years a separation happens.  Despite all of your hard work and caring, your disciplining and loving them, they stop coming. Some times they will tell you why and other times they wont talk to you anymore. You try to discover what happened and how to make it work, but in the end they stop coming. And you feel abandoned. If this is your situation right now don’t feel alone, it happens to all of us! I have seen some devastating effects this can have on the minister and the congregation alike. Lets talk about a couple of them and what to do about it.

 

The sense of feeling abandoned: Its normal to have these feeling to a point, after all both you and members of your congregation have opened your hearts to these people and now their gone. You know Jesus had the same problem, he shared his heart and some rejected Him as well. This can have a side affect if we allow it to. It can bring you and your congregations willingness to reach out to others down to where fear could stop us in fulfilling the Great Commission. So what do we do? First of all you need to pray over the situation, keeping in mind that their reasons for leaving could be valid. We are not perfect, we can make mistakes. So with this in mind, prayer that the Lord will give you wisdom in this situation, pray for insight and what and how to act in trying to being them back and how to keep the congregation incurred and pray for the Lord t keep you encouraged as well.

Another effect can be a loss of desire to extend ourselves out to others: Yes the pain is real and the disappointment is also, but we are called to be His witness and we cannot allow anyone of thing stop us in the ministry we have been given. So what do we do? Learn from this experience. See what happened and be ready the next time to address it before it become’s a problem.  And help the church body to understand that these things happen sometimes let move forward!

To sum up this little blog, if their were no sin in the world, then everyne would see the light and turn to the Lord. Our churches would never do anything wrong and we and this problem would never exist, but sin is here and so are we. If they leave, try to keep them in prayer try to offer help and let them know you are there if they need you, but don’t give up. What we do hase eternal affects. As Dory in finding Nemo says, “Just keep swimming.”

 

God Bless

Duane Cragun

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Our Attitude

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By Robert”Duane” Cragun

Have you ever taken a Spiritual Gifts exam? It seems like when I was going to college and Seminary I took about 100 of them. In fact, it was only three but it sure seemed like there were more. The funny thing to me was that the results came out basically the same each time. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the importance’s of knowing the areas we have gifts from God in and I understand that these areas may change over the years so retaking it I a good idea. But have you ever wondered about how much our attitude has to do with the ministry God has called us to serve in?

The thing here is that if we have a bad attitude we will attract few people if any at all. So, a positive attitude is vital for the minister, as well as for the church body. Who would want to be a part of a church that acts as if you are not welcome? Unfortunate, as it sounds however there are  churches that project a bad attitude and they don’t realize it. Yes, they may smile and shake a visitor’s hand and welcome them in, but then later they set and talk about others in front of the guest. I was speaking at one church and was setting on the platform watching as the ushers took the mornings offering. One older man must not have liked that a lady did not give anything as the plate passed down the pew, so when she handed it to him he stood there and refused to take the plat. Finally, a man setting behind her reached up and took it and passed it down the next pew. I bet she never darkened their door again!

But I have also seen this bad attitude displayed by some in vocational ministry as well. This  does very little for the cause of Christ. I understand that some people just drag us down. But our attitude may be the only glimpse of the love of Christ they will ever understand.

So, what are some ways to display a better attitude? First it must be real, people can tell of you mean it or not. Second, take time to listen. I understand that right before we preach is not the best time, but saying something like “I want to make sure I fully understand you, so can we talk about this right after service when I can give you my full attention?”  In short, treat them like we would want to be treated.

Blessings.

Duane Cragun

Distribution Principle in Ministry

Some of you are already worried that we are getting into math or algebra, I can see the worry on your faces.  However, I’m not talking about mathematical equations.  I’m talking about ministry distribution.

Over the years I have listened to various speakers who share on issues of distributing the work of ministry over to others.  I have also witnessed and experienced when ministry isn’t distributed well among the people.  It can wear down the person or the few persons who are in charge.

In a recent training session I was with a group of our leaders and sharing about this idea of distributing the work of discipleship. I first asked, ‘how many people can one person on average handle caring and deeply ministering too?’  The answer from one person was “Eleven,” and from another it was  “Three.”  I encouraged from my education and experience that we could go in the middle somewhere.  I know there are rare cases, like Jesus, when people are capable of pouring themselves out to more than ten people.  However, for most of the average followers of Jesus I would say it is likely that they are equipped to handle about five people.

Going off of my suggested number of one person deeply influencing five others I made a web on the board to show how more people could be reached by this method of sharing ministry than by one person trying to meet everyone’s needs.  One of the leaders in the study then pointed out that since the church is built on the concept of encouraging one another that also means that, ‘no one is alone.  All of us, even the leaders have five or six others to turn to.  We should never be going to one person for all our needs.’

So, my question to you is this: are you working within your limits and strengths?  We don’t like to see ourselves as limited.  Yet, when we recognize how our lives truly work we will become far more effective.  If you can handle seven or eight others to pour your life into, then pick some people who have the potential to grow.  Then as they grow they can take on ministry within the church as well.

The more people you have covering needs such as teaching, hospitality, greeting, follow-up visitation, visiting and prayer for sick or shut-ins the more people the church can touch strongly with the love of Jesus Christ.  The more people involved the more we can feel like we are not alone.  The more people involved the stronger the Church will be.

Take some time to evaluate what your doing.  Where can you invite others to join you in the work of Christ this week?  Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the way to involve others more.

 

(Photo Courtesy of Pixaby.com , Public Domain)

Managing and Lowering the Stress of Helping Ministries

One of the greatest blessings and curses that comes in ministry is in the area of helping others in need.  Much of our ministries is filled with helping people in various kinds of need.  This means that we are often approached at times that are inopportune for other parts of our daily work.  In many larger churches their are individual ministers,  office assistants, or other gate keepers who handle many of those who come seeking needs.  They are able to direct them to the best kind of help they can get, and they free much of the pastoral staff and senior pastors to do what they are called to do.  However, in the small-town church we are  often the only person available on any given day to handle these needs and crisis’ that arise.

I was once running a spiritual gifts class at a church.  When it came time to share with one another I revealed my strengths in preaching, teaching, and administration.  I remember that several people were surprised that my weakest area was mercy.

One woman in the group commented, “I would think that a pastor would be quite strong in mercy.”

I replied, “Before, I entered ministry I was far higher in my gift of mercy.  I think that it has been the years of having to judge whether people coming to me really had needs, or were just trying to swindle the system.  It can leave you a lot less merciful when you are have to help or tell people you can’t help at times.”

I have added over twelve years in ministry since then.  I would like to say the gift of mercy has returned.  However, the responsibility of caring for accounts to help people in need and trying to determine who we can and cannot help still makes me a bit cold at times.  I personally would love to help every person who comes to my door or to my church requesting help.  Yet, we can’t help everyone.

I am really being challenged in just how involved a minister should be in managing or passing out funds or help for a church or ministry.  In Acts 6:1-7, the apostles told the church at the time to pick leaders from among them to care for the needs of the widows and orphans.  Their reason was that they could be devoted to prayer and teaching.  While we as ministers are not the apostles, we are responsible for the spiritual life and training of our churches.  Perhaps it would be best if we looked harder at what we should be passing off to others.

The following are some things I have learned from my own experience, from working with a well run food pantry, and working with other churches who have helping ministries.  You may have other things to share, but I give you some things to advise you in doing helping ministries, especially people seeking financial help.

  1. Try to involve laity, or put laity in charge:  The best run food pantry I have had the privilege of working with is completely run by laity.  Reports are given to local church involved, but it is church members who run the entire pantry.  It is also Biblical to let people gifted in their areas of mercy to do the needed work.  This will also help to lower stress to you as a leader.
  2. Have written policies:  Written policies help you to be able to explain to those seeking help what your ministry actually helps with, and clearly states what limits or requirements there may be to such help.  You may want to include:
    1. Clarify the geographical area, in which your Helping Ministry is working.  The churches and pantries that I have seen manage the best were clear as to who they were trying to help.  It might be your particular village, town, or school district.  Such limits guarantee who will be helped.
    2. Clarify the requirements needed for someone seeking assistance from your Helping Ministries.
      1. Often this may include proof of where they live.
      2. Proof of income, to qualify for need.
      3. Proof of where money is going.  As example, you are helping with utilities it is usually most responsible to have a copy of a bill and write checks to the specific utility.
    3. Clarify the limits of your Helping Ministries.
      1. Is there a cut off to how much your helping ministry can or is able help?  While we may want to help people without condition, we simply would run a ministry dry if all we did was give out money without any limit.  This is irresponsible to those who work or give to help our ministry as well.
      2. Is there a limit on how often a person can come to seek help.  A local food pantry may have on going help, but to help more people they may say that people can only receive a food box once a month.  A ministry helping with utilities may limit such help to once a year.  Such limits provide more people opportunity to get help, while helping to keep people from becoming tied to needing our help.
  3. Have a reporting system for your Helping Ministry.  There should be some regular report that is given to the greater community of how funds have been distributed.  This should not include names, but should include the amount of people or families helped.  It should include what has been received into the ministry and what has been given out.  People like to know that others are helped by what they give.
  4. Thank people who give and volunteer who help your Helping Ministry.  People are more willing to help when they know they are appreciated.

Again, you may find some more specific needs that your particular ministry has.  However, having such plans in place will help you in running stronger helping ministries.  Hopefully, it will help to lower the stress to you if you are in charge of such ministries too.  May you continue to be blessed as you pass on the blessings you have been put in charge of in your ministries.