Ministry is supposed to be hard

If you were blessed to have a spring break, I hope you enjoyed it and are now settling back into your regular routine.  Bethany and I loved spending some time away with family and friends, and I was grateful for the outstanding message that our Student Minister, Nathan Wood, delivered in my absence.  As you all know, I was out last weekend along with our Executive Pastor, Matt Gillum, who was celebrating the newest addition to his family, baby Tag.  And while we were both out, I was so encouraged to see that the ship kept on sailing just fine.  I believe it should be the goal for every leader to have things go off without a hitch when he or she is not there, however, that’s only possible if you have an outstanding team standing beside you.  I’m grateful for our A+ staff and lay leaders who lead so well week in and week out.  Thank you for your diligence and your pursuit of excellence in all things.  You truly do make a difference.

This Sunday is the beginning of our spring sprint here at ABC.  This weekend is our parent child dedication, and we’re so proud of the six young families that are publicly committing to raise their children in Christ-centered homes.  The following weekend will feature ABC Serves, our church-wide local service day.  Over 100 volunteers will be deployed to serve as the hands and feet of Christ all across Austin.  The next day is the “Masters at ABC,” which will be a fun golf-themed morning that will offer special attractions for our church family and their guests to enjoy.  We’ll have a nine-hole putt-putt course, a closest to the pin challenge, and a “birdie ball” driving range with prizes.  In between worship and BFG, you’ll even be able to drop by “the clubhouse” to get a donut off our donut wall.  The following weekend is Palm Sunday, which will present our children’s choir in both services.  Later that week, we’ll have our first ever Good Friday service with beautiful music from our orchestra and choir, and the climactic moment of the weekend will be our celebration Easter worship services, which will also include a family egg hunt after the second service.

As you can see there are many things on the horizon, and that’s not even including the month of May which will showcase our ABC Student Ministry Weekend, our Mother’s Day celebration, and our Savior’s Oratorio concert featuring our own choir/orchestra and special musical guests, Veritas.  Our church is not short on ministries and it’s safe to say that ABC is well and alive.  But the question might be asked, “why do we do all these things?”  After all, each of these endeavors demands staff, volunteers, and costly resources.  There are certainly easier paths to travel in church ministry, but I believe the apostle Paul explains why we should work hard within the church.  He writes, Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me (Colossians 1:28-29). 

Paul says everything he did in ministry was “toil.”  In other words, he’s saying ministry was hard work!  Paul labored to reach the lost and disciple the saved, but he shared that the Lord provided the necessary energy for him to do so. And today in 2022, I would argue things haven’t changed much in modern church ministry. Ministry is still hard, and the good news is God still provides the grace we need to do it. If ministry feels easy all the time, I would contend that you might not actually be ministering. Because it is not easy to reach the lost, nor is it easy to disciple the saved.  Ministry by its very nature demands personal sacrifice, but the good news is our sacrifice isn’t in vain.  When ministry is done effectively, we see progress in our goal of presenting “everyone mature in Christ.”  We work hard so that others may grow up in the likeness of Jesus Christ.  We fill up a calendar to provide opportunities for people to worship Jesus, to learn how to serve Him, to build Christian community, to be discipled through His Word, and for the lost to be saved through the proclamation the Gospel.  So we don’t work hard just to stay busy, we work hard for the purpose of seeing God change lives. That’s why it’s so important that we do not “grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

Many people give up in ministry because it is hard. The harvest often doesn’t come quickly enough and frustration sets in. This usually leads to us working outside of His strength, and burnout then awaits for us right around the corner. But this spring, I encourage you to abide in Christ and not grow weary of doing good, but instead commit to do two simple things.  First, be a part of this amazing work.  We all give our time and money to something, but I would argue that nothing provides a greater return on our investment than serving the Lord.  Each of our ministries need more volunteers right now that will sacrificially serve as co-laborers.  It’s one thing to attend a ministry, but you receive an entirely different level of joy when you partner with others in that ministry.  Each of us has an opportunity to serve as partners in ministry through sharing our time and talent, but also through sharing our treasure.  Every ministry in the church is only possible through the faithful tithes and offerings of God’s people.  So thank you for being a generous church, and I encourage to continue to partner with us through both your spiritual and financial gifts. Your faithfulness shines the light of Jesus Christ all across the city of Austin.

But secondly, I would encourage you to not only be a part of the ministry, but also invite someone else to come experience it with you.  Perhaps for the first time in two years, almost everyone is re-engaging with culture like they did before the pandemic.  With such amazing things happening in our church, it would be a shame for you to enjoy them all alone.  All of our ministries have open doors to those who are not here yet, as we truly do want to present “everyone as mature in Christ.” God has given you a sphere of influence, and I encourage you to prayerfully consider who you can bring alongside you starting this Sunday.  I’ve witnessed the power of a personal invitation more times than I can count.  Your personal intentionality with friends and neighbors can truly change their lives. It’s easier to just be the beneficiary of ministries, but it’s much more rewarding to watch God bless others through those same ministries.

God is doing a great work at ABC, and I hope that you plan to be a part of it this spring.  Don’t grow weary in doing good, and I look forward to worshipping with you Sunday.

Onward and upward,

Jonathan Spencer

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