It looks like we’re in a season of pruning in mine and my wife life. Jesus said in John 15:2 that “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
Typically how it happens is we lose interest in something. Like the leaves on the trees, it dries up and falls off. This time, we also have a hand on the pruning shears.
We’re cutting off ministries.
We were doing our marriage checkup at church, and the pastor asked how much time we have together and resting. One Saturday a month wasn’t a good answer.
“How many ministries are you involved in?”
Between the two of us, five. Four are full-time in that we’re there every weekend.
He told us we’re heading off a cliff if we continue in this direction. They typically don’t let people serve in that many ministries. Because ours are so varied, no one probably noticed.
We need more time together, and if we do have kids, they’ll take up a lot of time. Best to make room now. Our homework was to create a list and reevaluate our ministries. We may need to leave a few.
Making A List, Checking It Twice
The next day, I made a timeline of ministry. What and when did we start in the last four
years. As I looked at it, we have been just stacking more on top of more.
I check my stress and energy readings over the past few months. There should be a downward trend. There isn’t much of one. My best days are the rare Sabbaths.
The cliff is closer than I realized.
I list the pros and cons of every ministry. The good and the bad of staying in each individual department. On the reverse, the good and bad of leaving them.
When I’ve prayed and thought through it, I talked to Casey.
I planned to drop out of the Homeless Ministry completely. Casey wants to stay for one Saturday a month. Metro Cafe.
It’s under-manned at times. Julius, the lone Deaf guy, comes. Plus my role as the back-up leader in the dining room.
This gives us three to four Saturdays a month free to rest and do whatever together. I have said no to a lot because of ministry obligations.
The cleaning team we lead was unanimous. We’ll transition out of it. Be completely out of it by April next year.
The team has grown. It’s a good starting point for a new leader. We’ll start the process of finding that leader. This will give us less to worry about on Sundays. Those are our busiest days trying to navigate three ministries at once.
That’s two full-time ministries pared down.
Leading on a team and teaching in Reach, our Deaf Ministry is staying. We can focus more energy here since we don’t have to watch the clock to go clean.
Casey will still go cuddle all the babies in the nursery.
Those are the full-time ministries we are keeping.
GriefShare, the part-time ministry I’m a part of, I will continue to be a part of.
For me, it’ll be full-time Deaf Ministry, part-time Homeless and GriefShare. For her, it will be full-time nursery, Deaf Ministry, and part-time Homeless.
The Thought Process
Part of my thought process was this:
- What ministries can anyone do and what are we more suited for at this point in our lives?
- God will not let an ordained ministry die before its time. Our roles will be filled by someone.
- You have to say no to a lesser good for a greater good.
- We have to lead out of our relationship with God.
- We have to lead out of our marriage.
- We’re human beings, not human doings.
Now the hard part. Going through with it, especially as a creature of habit. It’s going to be interesting seeing what next year brings.