Variety is the spice of life!
It’s an old saying that, for some of us, holds a lot of truth. Culturally speaking, I think we’ve taken variety to an all-time high. I’m currently in the market for a new computer. My laptop has a defect that can’t be repaired and, though it’s only four years old, it’s destined for the computer graveyard. I can’t tell you how much I loathe purchasing a new one. It’s not just having to shell out a chunk of cash, although that’s bad enough. No, what really frustrates me is trying to find the right machine for my needs for the right price. There are simply too many choices, and sorting through the variety of available options requires more energy and time than I want to invest.
For ten years I served on staff at a large church. The immense variety of programs was certainly attractive to me and to my family when we began worshiping there, and I was excited at the prospect of coordinating their volunteer ministry. I remember the first time I actually counted all the serving opportunities we offered: 250. I was really proud of that–so much for people to choose from! However, many folks coming through our discovery and placement process found it overwhelming. Choosing a ministry from the wide variety could be a daunting task. It often took several conversations, several trial runs, before we found the right fit. There were some who quickly tired of the process and simply opted out, never finding a place to serve that would grow their faith.
I now serve a small parish as the pastor of ministry development. Ministry development, however, is certainly not limited to creating serving opportunities. I do that occasionally. But primarily I am concerned with developing a person’s ministry–their vocation— for wherever they are at any given moment. I begin by engaging in meaningful dialogue around one’s passions in life, their personal preferences, the talents they were born with and the skills they’ve acquired, the experiences they have had, and the way the Holy Spirit has uniquely gifted them. When we take those discoveries and line them up with that person’s daily routines, we begin to see how all of life can be ministry and how ministry can be the wellspring of life.
In this way, those who thrive on variety can see that each new day offers plenty of opportunity for ministry, while those who would be overwhelmed by choosing from a list of 250 serving opportunities need look no further than their everyday life to find meaningful ways to serve. Variety made simple.
Now, if only the computer companies could grasp that concept…