Few things make me happier than a good idea. Sign me up for a brainstorming session any day! I love the process of bouncing ideas around, seeing if they will work, and building action plans around them (yes, Intellection does rank top 5 in my Strenghtsfinder).
It’s part of what makes youth ministry so fun – we look for little idea sparks all the time and see how big the flame might get if we fanned them.
August is one of those months with a particularly heavy dosage of brainstorming and ideation. It’s the month where Mary Ellen and I are looking towards the ministry year and deciding which flames to fan, and how we might love the kids entrusted to our care best in the coming year.
But no one can question that this time our drawing board is a little different. Our kickoff will be a virtual one, and our primary contexts are a 6-month long global pandemic and a burgeoning civil rights movement. This August, I’ve come to grips with a scary possibility – maybe ideas aren’t the right place to start.
Kate and I just finished celebrating our one year anniversary in June, and I remember that every significant event after our wedding had a special glow to it. Everything was the first “blank” after being married. The first Thanksgiving. The first Christmas. The first Easter. Every moment was sprinkled with a new, special kind of reality – we were married.
As a country broadly, and as a church specifically, we face a similar kind of season, but with a different mood altogether. Without sounding too morose, it’s as if every moment is instead sprinkled with sorrow. Each significant occasion is a reminder that we’re living in a pandemic. Everything is the first “blank” since COVID-19.
So here we are – the first ministry year kick-off since COVID-19. How should we go about it? What’s the answer in the face of all the uncertainty? How do we care for kids that we can’t see in person? What do we do when our ideas just don’t feel like they are enough?
For me, I’m left with a reminder that causes me to be humble and hopeful at the same time. I’m not a part of a think tank – I’m a part of the church. Locally and globally, the church is not fueled primarily by innovation, status, approval or accolades. We are a people who fall on our knees and trust in a good and faithful God to lead us. We submit before we strive.
Believe me, I know we’re in a time of great hurt and great need. For those of us that aren’t struggling financially, we’re struggling emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Some of us are wrestling with all of this at once. I don’t take that lightly at all. But I’m also encouraged by the story of the church, of which we are a part. The church’s finest moments are the ones where, in the midst of great struggle, they trusted God to work in them and through them. It was prayer, not ideas, that moved the church forward.
I love ideas, but I’m reminded time and time again that God is who he says he is. He will take care of these kids in ways I couldn’t have even imagined. But if he wants to use our ideas this year, then that’s fine by me!