Ministry is a glass half-empty or half-full proposition. There are so many things that can discourage us. Ministry is hard at the best of times, and it often feels like we’re losing, rather than taking, ground. At the local church level, many churches need revitalizing, which is an important work but also a long and sometimes difficult one. Also, planting is hard.
Despite all of this, I’m hugely encouraged. Here’s why.
Gospel — Not only have we seen a rediscovery of the gospel in recent years, but we haven’t moved on. Nor could we. Books like Gospel by Ray Ortlund really encourage me, because they push us to not only consider gospel doctrine, but weave the gospel into the very culture of the church. Having tasted this, even in small measures, it’s impossible to go back.
Resources — Never before have we been so well resourced. There are so many excellent books coming out that it’s impossible to keep up with them. There are so many thoughtful, theologically sound and beneficial blogs that I can’t possibly read them all. My laptop contains the resources of a small seminary library. I can listen to the best sermons preached last Sunday without leaving my home. It’s staggering.
Servants — The days demand servanthood, which is why I keep meeting humble people who are ready to go to tough churches and love them to health. I love meeting seminary students who realize that there are lots of ministry positions, but not a lot of ministry careers, and who still are preparing to serve. I love meeting quality pastors who serve in obscurity and are okay with that. I love the servants who drive across the city every week to help us set up chairs at our humble church plant.
Desperation and Prayer — I’m sensing a growing number of pastors and churches who are praying for each other, and longing for something to happen not just in their church but in their city and beyond.
All of this leaves me encouraged, but hungry for more. Let’s pray that God would bring renewal to our churches and cities, and that we’ll see these brushfires of hope turn into something more.