By Kerry Provost, Awana Canada
I have always been quick to say that I am not a creative person. I have worn this statement like a badge of honour. It declares, “I am not creative, because I am logical and rational.”
I have built an invisible box around myself. It is like a security blanket; it wraps around me and clearly limits how far I can go in my ministry. The walls secure my place and define my work.
Truth be told, I envy visionaries who come up with big, creative ideas that make a real impact. I have become too familiar with the boundaries of my box.
Recently I have come to realize the walls of my box are very limiting. Rather than providing definition and direction, they have become barriers, blocking me from doing the work I feel called to do.
With a pandemic wreaking havoc, it is easy to default to staying in the box, to do what has always been done when it comes to ministry opportunities. For many, this means a forced pause.
But as a friend recently reminded me, we do not serve a God of a wasted year. The world is not on pause. We have not been called to stop—or become stagnant—in the work we are doing.
The apostle Paul sums it up well: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Jesus wasn’t limited by boundaries, only by His own power (which, of course, is limitless). Consider the day He fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. His decision to tell the people to sit down for lunch, rather than sending them home, was not driven by the need to do something obvious. He was driven by compassion and a desire to continue discipling the people.
God specializes in doing the impossible.
Moses drew water from a stone. David killed a giant. Esther saved her fellow Jews. Jesus was born of a virgin. He can work through us, too. He can find a way to reach kids with the Gospel, and to equip church leaders and families for child and youth discipleship. It’s not you and me doing this. It’s God working through us.
It’s time to get rid of the box and get creative to renew your ministry. Take a look at the following statements in the light of your own ministry activities.
1. Identify the problem, keeping in mind that the way you have been doing ministry is not the only way.
For example, you might say, “Our problem is that we rely heavily on church being open to receive kids. Now that it is closed, leaders are unable to run their traditional programs.”
2. What is at the core of your service?
Compassion is at the core of how Jesus responded when He fed the crowd. What is your mission? Perhaps it is something like, “Our mission is to reach kids with the Gospel and equip church leaders and families for discipleship. Our values point to ministry, rather than programming.”
3. Don’t look for the right answer, look for alternatives.
Consider every idea. Let the brainstorming begin! The way you’ve always done ministry may not be the only way.
4. Focus on what will work.
What things can you do to continue to reach kids with the good news of Jesus, and disciple children? Make a list of ideas you can use to renew your ministry. It might include:
- Provide books and materials to help families focus on discipleship at home.
- Meet with your kids and families online. Plan theme nights on Zoom!
- As health guidelines allow, ask parents to host small groups for kids in their own communities, Have a leader join them for support.
- Offer training sessions for parents interested in pursuing discipleship at home.
- Have leaders check-in regularly with families to offer encouragement and support.
- Offer families ideas for safe, creative service opportunities.
You may not be crafty, but you can be creative! Now is the time to break through the walls of your box and turn adversity into advantage to renew your ministry.
Remember: If you set your mind on doing what you’ve always done, you may find yourself doing nothing at all. But when you think outside the box, your ministry will have room to grow in new and exciting ways.
This article is an edited version of an Awana Canada blog post, and is used with permission.