Are you familiar with TED talks? These are relatively brief presentations by thought leaders that stimulate, inspire, and encourage. At the Annual Fall Gathering of the AlabamaCooperative Baptist Fellowship yesterday, one of the breakout sessions was titled “CBF Meet TED: Inspiring Stories from and for Our Movement.” Hosted by Chris Aho, the session featured three short presentations to stimulate, inspire, and encourage participants.
All of the presentations were helpful, but the presentation by Jamie Mackey, minister to students at First Baptist Church, Huntsville,Alabama, particularly caught my attention. Jamie identified the four ingredients of a healthy student ministry—relationships, Bible study, ministry, and fun—and explained their importance. He made some application to other types of ministry as well—senior adults, campus ministry, etc.
As I listened to Jamie’s presentation, I realized that these are the ingredients for any effective Christian ministry. They apply in the local church, in community work, and in judicatories.
First, relationships are essential to healthy, growing ministries. The time invested in getting to know one another, telling stories, praying together, and sharing experiences provides a strong foundation for everything else that takes place.
Second, Bible study gives us not only a theological rationale for our work, but it also provides the images, language, and inspiration that sustain us when the going gets rough. There is nothing new under the sun, but the Bible shines its light on all of our experiences.
Third, I would define ministry here as the way we practice or live out our faith, especially in the world around us. Community and Bible study are not ends in themselves but result in changed lives that impact the place where God has put us. As God’s people, what we do is not ultimately to benefit ourselves but others.
Fourth,” fun” means different things to different people, but I think we can all agree that fun facilitates creativity, relief of tension, and a bit of mischievousness! What does this have to do with the work of ministry? No one is going to stay with anything very long if there is not a little fun involved. If we are too rigid, we stifle the work of the Spirit. Real innovation comes out of spontaneous, free-flowing experiences. All of us dread committee or team work where there is not a good balance of task and relationship. A little fun gets the creative juices flowing.
How does your ministry stack up to these criteria? Thanks, Jamie, for giving us something to consider.