People often ask: “Larry, am I doing what God wants me to do?” I use ten questions to regularly guide me as a pastor and to guide the spiritual life of the church I serve. So maybe you will find the questions helpful too. Warning: Don’t think you have to check off everything or feel guilty about what you are not doing. These questions are simply meant to be a practical guide for you and your church.
- Do you pray regularly? It sounds so simple yet nothing happens without prayer. Personal struggles often seem magnified when your prayer life slacks off. Does your church emphasize prayer as a regular and critical part of ministry? Prayer should always be step one.
- Do you have a vision? It is difficult to shoot an arrow when there is no target. So how can you function without a vision along with goals to help you fulfill the vision? What talents and resources are available to you and your church? What ministry is needed in your community?
- Are we growing in faith? Spiritual formation is a continuous journey of learning, experiencing and sharing the Word of God. Young and old are discovering a passion for God’s Word but don’t always know where to begin. Bible studies and small groups play a key role in spiritual development. You can start a Bible study, participate in Sunday school or join a prayer group.
- Are you caring for others? What are you doing to maintain loving contact with friends and family? Do you regularly offer encouragement to others? What is your church doing to care for each other? Most offer shepherd groups, support ministries or prayer chains. Perhaps you can join in. Even the simple gesture of sending a card is a ministry which often works miracles.
- Do you cultivate friendships above and below your age? If you don’t… why not? Maybe you need to get a life! Just kidding but it’s important that you reach beyond your comfort level and seek to understand other age groups and cultures. You learn a lot and have a great time. Young and old alike have so much to offer but need our love, encouragement and respect.
- Are you involved in a community ministry? Habitat for Humanity offers wonderful ministry opportunities. How about children at Christmas? Are groups fixing broken down houses for people too poor or sickly to make their own repairs? There is “Meals on Wheels?” Every community has needs? To meet them God gave us unique talents. What are you doing with yours? Discover what’s needed and ask: “How can I help?” What a difference you could make!
- Are you a witness? Do people really know what you believe? How can you talk about God without others feeling intimidated or offended? Do coworkers look upon you as someone they can trust? Do you listen to their concerns with respect and love? Are you praying for opportunities to share your faith? My favorite definition of witness is the willingness to make a sincere and honest attempt to be a friend to someone in the name of God.
- What about men? More than 60% of those not attending church are men.Mission trips, building projects and sports have all proven to be successful ways to include guys. Many come back to participate in other activities. One church provided a steak dinner. I like that!
- Are we reaching single adults? Nearly 60% of the unchurched are single. Surveys indicate many single adults believe in God but feel isolated from church. We recognize their needs by changing our language. Family night supper implies you should be married. Try “Fellowship and Fun” suppers. Ministry ideas could include divorce and grief recovery workshops. Provide free child care for all of your events or offer parents night out for stressed out single parents.
- What about children? Parents struggle to provide a wholesome environment. You can start by enthusiastically volunteering at Sunday school as a teacher or volunteer. There are other opportunities such as: After-School Ministry or MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers.)
I can’t possibly do all that! True but you can do something. My prayer is for these questions to stimulate your thinking. Then, let God guide you. We all face a challenge to reach out in ministry in creative ways. The main thing is to be open-minded, be in prayer and celebrate any victories.
The biggest joy of my life has been to witness people inspired by God become more involved in ministry. The excitement of doing something worthwhile for God is more contagious than a flu epidemic and the results are far more lasting and satisfying. So, what are you waiting for? Start praying about these ten questions and your response today and may God guide and inspire you!