Ministry in Context

Blip or Trend?

"Is it a blip or a trend?" That is a FAQ among our Contextual Learning team. With great regularity, one of us will note something relative to internship sites, interns, supervisors, congregational profiles, pastors' bios, financial situations, an experimental mission, a cluster of comments or questions, or some other phenomenon—and soon we are pondering the question: "Is this a blip on the radar screen, or an early sign of a significant trend?"

Many of you are squarely midway through your internship year. If you are typical, some early ministry attempts went well, while others left a bit to be desired. You are developing some deepening relationships, but are oddly unable to connect with some folks. You are starting to feel confident that God has indeed called you into this public servant leadership role, but now and then it feels like you are a three-year-old posing in front of a mirror decked out in your mom or dad's clothes. You are getting feedback (ah, yes, "feedback"), and while most of it is reassuring, there is that occasional unnerving response.

On the one hand, ministry is very simple: we proclaim Jesus Christ. On the other hand, ministry is exceedingly complex: we are called to actually live out the gospel in community as we proclaim Jesus Christ. As you are discerning your call and living into the unique shape of God's grace through you, you are processing all sorts of things. How do you know what is important and what is tangential? How do you separate wheat from chaff? How do you keep focus without getting tunnel-vision? How do you discern what God is up to in the midst of all the distractions of the world? How do you keep the fussing baby from distracting you from the gospel you are preaching—both literally during the sermon and figuratively during the week?

I don't have any answer to offer you. But I commend a question to you as you live into discernment of ministry and call: "So...is this a blip (chaff to let blow away) or a trend (wheat with which to nourish lives of faith)?"

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