Thursday, March 18, 2010

Growing Pains 3: Thriving on the Unexpected

Some unexpected things are good. I was taught as a Navy Chaplain to have purchase requisitions ready in case there is money available at the end of the budget year. The department that’s prepared will profit from the windfall.

Thinking quickly and building on past experience can lead to opportunities for mission teams, grants, and new volunteers. I have acquired four church buildings over the years to start new churches. Three had been turned over to the local association when the church disbanded after deciding it could not reach the neighborhood.

These buildings were in need of repair and remodeling but were rent-free. Using grants, donated materials and volunteer labor, they were brought up to acceptable standards. One church building was refurbished because a mission team’s construction project fell through. In a few hours I was able to arrange for daily lunches and snagged the team.

Urban ministry is filled with unexpected opportunities. There are two things that an urban minister must do in order to become aware of opportunities.

1. Network: Show up at ministerial meetings and listen. Get to know people and let them get to know you. Go to meetings in your denomination and multi-denominational ones as well. You will learn about grants, free furniture, available buildings and more. No one is going to come chasing after you with an opportunity.

2. Say YES: There is power in saying yes. This includes yes to helping others and yes when help is offered. When a seminary student asked if they could do an internship at my church, I said yes and it led to many more students over the years. When a denominational worker asked if I could use a group of students whose plans changed at the last minute, I said yes and some much-needed work was accomplished. I know pastors who have said no to both. The long-term result of saying yes is that people will call you first when an opportunity arises and you will get a can-do reputation.

There are three lists you can create that will allow you to say yes to opportunities more frequently.

1. How would you spend $10,000 if someone offered it to you?

2. How would you use a mission team of 30 youth if you had a week’s notice? (or no notice?)

3. How would you use a church member who called during the week and said they’d like to work at the church all today?

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