PERSONAL MINISTRY INTRODUCTION
When my husband and I blended our families, we chose 1 John 4:19 as our family life verse, “We love because He first loved us.” It defined our intentions and our prayers for our family. That although our children did not choose to blend our families, that they might love each other anyway, because He first loved us. This passage became a central part of our teaching and relationship building over the last year.
When God confronted me with my opportunity to begin ministry by serving families through daycare, it was natural that my ministry encompassed this scripture as well. As a daycare, we desire to be a home away from home where children can meet Christ. We also desire to partner with parents and partner with them to provide for their families beyond simply watching their children. This led us to develop our personal ministry statement: As a Christian household, our mission is to love and provide for our neighbors as God has loved and provided for us. I am so blessed to be partnered with my husband on this journey. He is an incredible accountability partner that will empower each step and keep me moving forward.
MINISTRY DEVELOPMENT GOALS
Personal Development Goals
Physical Goal: Run 5k each day and lift three times each week. Running played a critical role in the development of my spiritual pathway as a Naturalist. Unfortunately, since I’ve moved to the country and away from my running paths, I’ve allowed that discipline to fall by the wayside. That has also gone hand in hand with setting aside less time with Jesus.
I also believe that we need to care for the body that God gave us. Having tried a variety of physical fitness, I’ve discovered that heavy lifting is the best form of exercise for my body type. Lifting has also gone by the wayside since moving away from by gym. Reaching this goal is simple, simply start doing it again. Preferably working up to a 5k rather than attempting to run it out right the first time out. Likewise, starting with light weight, rather than returning to my personal bests the first time back in the gym.
Intellectual Goal: Read one book a month. As a discipline, my pastor selects a list of 12 books to read each year. Not necessarily new or different books each year, but books that speak to his intentions for the year, disciplines he wants to deepen, sins/patterns that he needs to reform or repent of. All of them are Christian authors and speak into his personal faith life or contribute to his ministry and are intended to enhance his relationship with Jesus, relationships with others, and his ministry. I’d like to do the same for the same reasons. To reach this goal, I’d like to begin with re-reading several of the seminary books I want to read more in-depth. I also have a “after seminary” reading list with recommendations from pastors and mentors.
Vocational Goal: Establish “The Village” 501(c)3 and complete the financial projections for The Village Daycare Scholarships. This goal is a crucial step in order to establish a sustainable ministry. We want our ministry to extend beyond a personal income for our household, but to do so we need to seek the guidance of a financial planner and investment specialist in order to leverage our savings in the market for a bigger return.
The first step to completing this goal is to establish The Village LLC and finalize the business plan for The Village Daycare (our daycare) expansion and cost/profit projections. We then need to meet with the financial planner to determine a rate of return and set an annual amount for investment. This will allow us to project returns and balances and set a date goal in which we will be able to begin awarding scholarships.
Relational Goal: Start a small group with neighbors. I’ve been called to rural ministry. I’ve also moved to a new town in the middle of winter and a pandemic hit shortly thereafter. So, I still don’t know very many people. A small group is an ideal way to get to know like-minded women in our community. Ideally, this will build strong Christian relationships and community in which we can grow together. This goal is also very simple to accomplish. Invite. I have two contacts in town that are faithful Christian families. Even starting as a group of three accomplishes this goal. However, my prayer would be that our group grows beyond that just a group of three.
Spiritual Formation Goals
Spiritual Discipline Goals: Complete a 365-day bible challenge and plant my garden. These goals are intended to deepen my practice in study and solitude. Study is important because it helps me grown in my understanding of God. My first step toward this goal is to select a reading plan. I have chosen to do a reading plan in order to keep my interest. As opposed to reading from front to back. I have paired this goal with a goal aligned with my one of my sacred pathways.
In the past, I have found my deepest understanding of my study to come during my periods of solitude. I have also found my mind is able to reflect best when my hands have work to do. This is why I have chosen gardening as a spiritual discipline goal. I believe that God has given us everything that we need and charged us with caring for it. Caring for a vegetable garden not only gives my hands work as I reflect on my study, it also allows me to worship in my most sacred pathway and provide for my family.
This goal will also help me to increase the time in which I abide in Christ through the solitude I practice during gardening. This was one of my three lowest scores on my Spiritual Growth Assessment (See Appendixes). I have already taken the steps to beginning this goal. My seeds have been ordered. I will plant the garden when the spring comes, harvest, and preserve food as it is harvested to provide for my family throughout the year.
Affective Goal: Attend therapy at least once monthly. As my pastor and friends would say, “Nik, you’ve been through a thing.” Referring to my divorce. Reflection is necessary for growth. An important part of reflection is feedback. A divorce is a big thing that affects every aspect of and relationship in your life. Therefore, I believe that it is necessary that my reflection should include professional feedback. Even though I am visibly healed from my divorce, I am sure there is trauma that is not healed that affects how I interact and lead others.
It is crucial that my interactions and leadership is centered in Christ and not in my trauma. I think perhaps that my witness to others score was low on my Spiritual Growth Assessment (See Appendixes) is because I am not confident in how my own spiritual journey will affect them. It is my hope that my time in therapy gives me the confidence to increase my witness to others. I have taken the first step in initiating this process by selecting a therapist. The second step is establishing a budget and beginning care.
Cognitive Goal: Read four books a year geared toward parenting, social and emotional development, forgiveness and generational sin in a Christian perspective. My reasoning for this goal is to increase my understanding in my chosen vocation. The majority of families that I will come in contact with will not be faithful followers of Christ. Therefore, I believe that having a persona of expertise in regard to my vocation and the relational dynamics will provide me with an avenue and the means to more effectively share and apply the Gospel in my context.
Behavioral Goal: Set dates with each child for monthly or bi-monthly one-on-one time. The intention behind this goal is to be a better example of to my children in regard to Abiding in Christ. As I’ve referenced in prior writings during this course, my spiritual disciplines are often out of sight of my children, many times after they go to bed. While the structure of our day is not likely to change to allow them to see my practice, setting one-on-one time with them to practice with them will allow them to see me Abide in Christ and teach them to do so as well. The first step to accomplishing this goal is to set a recurring rhythm in collaboration with my husband. The second is determining the best approach to our time together and which disciplines it should be centered in. The last is follow through.
Ministry Development Goals
There has been so much change during my seminary journey. I feel like this growth plan is the third one I’ve developed. Unfortunately, this leaves me at point one once again and little to correlate with. The good news is, I have a ministry partner now when I didn’t before. I am thankful for my husband. His stability has increased my ministry potential tenfold. Our current ministry plan has already taken roots and advanced further than any ministry plans previously developed.
Our ministry requires community partnerships. This is our first ministry development goal. The first step we have set up is to meet with another local ministry leader. The intention for this meeting is to gage the local ministry atmosphere. We are new to community. We feel it will better serve our ministry to collaborate than to compete. In addition to making a connection in the initial appointment, the “lay of the land” that I receive will give me additional ministry leaders to call and connect with. Beyond our community, the success of our ministry will require connections in our broader county area. This goal is really geared toward networking and ongoing throughout our ministry.
Our next goal for ministry is to develop a business plan based on the feedback we receive from the local ministry leaders. The first step in accomplishing this goal will be to research local business property in order to develop a budget and cashflow projections. The second step in accomplishing this goal is to resource volunteer and donation recruitment.
The final step in our ministry development plan is to create a timeline for The Thrifty Village launch. After both goals are achieved, it will give us the green light to start our new ministry. The steps in ministry launch include securing a building, creating an operating plan, marketing, fundraising, volunteer recruitment. The time frames for each event will be developed based on ministry leadership contribution, and final business plan details.
“Jesus doesn’t encounter Matthew and John — or even you and me — and ask, ‘What do you know’ He doesn’t even ask, ‘What do you believe’ He asks, ‘What do you want?’ This is the most incisive, piercing question Jesus can ask of us precisely because we are what we want. Our wants and longings and desires are at the core of our identify, the wellspring from which our actions and behavior flow. Our wants reverberate from our heart, the epicenter of the human person. Thus, Scripture counsels, ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.’ (Proverbs 4:23). Discipleship, we might say, is a way to curate your heart to be attentive to and intentional about what you love” (pp. 1–2).
These questions have been at the center of my seminary journey from beginning to end. Add, “what do I want my ministry to be?” The idea that we are what we love is piercing and requires one to really examine what they spend their time, energy, and attention on. That examination illuminated and convicted me of my sins and my distractions, the things that aren’t harmful but aren’t helpful. It also required me to examine what needed to be refined or forgotten in order to find and really accept the mission that God had for me. It resulted in my finding my heart for ministry.
My mission in ministry: to love and provide for my neighbors and God has loved and provided for us. How do I do that? Worship by abiding in Christ, living in the Word, and bringing The Kingdom into my household for my neighbors to see. “Our households — our ‘little kingdoms’ — need to be nourished by the constant re-centering in the body of Christ. Week after week we bring our little kingdoms into the Kingdom of God…From there we are sent back into our households and families, where we then have an opportunity to extend the church’s worship in our ‘little churches’” (125–126).
Smith, James K.A. You Are What You Love. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2016.