I just read this article by Kurt Johnston and it’s really powerful for me.
MINISTRY TO THE “FRINGES”: One of the ways churches can continue to grow, thrive, reflect kingdom principles etc. is to purposely neglect the “vortex” of our ministry and look for ways to adapt to the changing culture around us. By allowing leaders to experiment with stuff outside our usual methods, programs, strategies etc. (the “vortex”), we give our ministries a chance to adapt to the changes going on all around us instead of simply clinging on to our comfortable vortexy (my word, not Gibbons’) stuff. The fringes….the stuff we aren’t quite comfortable with, the people we don’t naturally associate with, the things that are in culture but not yet in the church etc. is the stuff we need to begin to think about or else we run the risk of being an outdated relic. Think of your community for a second. Can you name a church or two that once was a vibrant part of your community but instead of being willing to consider the “fringes”, insisted on feeding the “vortex” and is now merely a shell of what it once was? What are the “vortex” parts of your junior high ministry? What “fringes” might you need to begin paying attention to?
This topic has recently come up in my own ministry. Neil and I aren’t typical student ministers. Neither of us come from “trained” student ministry backgrounds. One thing that does unite us is our past work WITH students. I have done mission trips for years that focus on students and Neil worked in the Cheer world as a coach.
Fast forward…We’re trying to brainstorm how Neil can use his ability to coach cheer (he’s won 20+ national titles) and choreograph in our ministry. Keep in mind that Neil is only the second male cheerleader I’ve ever met AND I grew up in small town east Tennessee. So, this concept is a little different for me and way outside of my comfort zone. I can’t help notice what the Spirit has been saying to my heart, my desire to become a better leader, and now Kurt’s article. If we are supposed to reach all people, that means doing things outside of our comfort zones. In this case, cheer stuff.
I’m working to explore the fridge and avoid my vortex. I think you should too!
[Note: Neil was hired for student worship/small groups. He won’t stop his main ministry, but in exploring the fringe, I’m opening MY eyes to his abilities to reach a different group.]