What Significant Tensions are You and Your Ministry Context Currently Navigating or Anticipating?

Blog Series:  Your Perspective, Insights, and Witness Make a Difference

Dear friends, TMC thrives on listening to and learning from you – ministry leaders, TMC cohort facilitators, and other conversation partners across the country – who continually provide deep insights, alternative perspectives, and imagination that helps us discern where the Spirit is blowing and how the TMC network can faithfully respond. Your collective feedback is a powerful witness to what God is doing in the world. So, as always, we want to hear from you! Each post in this blog series is a question directed to you, accompanied by short reflections about why we’re drawn to these questions, and a simple way for you to respond. We hope these questions resonate with you and others in your ministry context. 

If you’ve ever put new strings on a guitar, you know that as you tighten a new string and tune it, it always feels like you’re on the verge of snapping it. But if you can get it to just the right tension, along with all the other strings, new strings sound beautiful. Sometimes life and ministry feels like that, like we’re a guitar string being tightened and on the verge of snapping. But sometimes that tension we’re experiencing is when we’re being tuned, alongside others who are being tuned as well (and like a guitar or other stringed instrument, we’re all being tuned to different notes!) Life is full of tension. Sometimes unbearably so. It’s why I’ve often said that books like Job, the Psalms, and Proverbs are a great lens for reading the whole of scripture. Their highly disorienting nature accustoms us to tension, complexity, paradox, dialectic. It’s often where we find the deepest reservoirs of God’s grace.

We want to come alongside you in whatever tensions you’re inhabiting, because we’re convinced that this is where God graciously refines and sanctifies, where faith-filled resilience is nurtured, where wells of wisdom are deepened, and where Spirit-filled witness to God’s good news takes shape. Nearly every conversation I have throughout the week makes note of such tensions, many of them presenting us with avenues for faithful, joyful ministry, even if those paths are winding and covered with debris. Here are just a few frequent examples from those conversations. Tensions between:

  • Ministry inspiration and imagination… and budget anxiety.
  • Helping people stay engaged with the world around them… and their faith becoming ideologically hijacked.
  • A leader’s sense of call… and the ministry system’s expectations.
  • A ministry’s desire to take some faithful risks… and the ministry system’s capacity to do so.
  • Older generations’ perception of the world… and that of younger generations.
  • People’s professed desire to be engaged with a community’s complex challenges… and people’s need for the ministry to primarily be a safe, stable, low-risk experience.
  • Waiting on God… and why sometimes we can’t wait.
  • People’s needs… and program needs (and how these so easily get put in the wrong order)
  • The necessity of nudging on something that needs nudging… and the possibility of blowing everything up by doing so.
  • The risk of faithfully addressing thorny issues… and the risk of avoiding them altogether.

Let not your heart be troubled! God’s grace will prove sufficient. Jesus’ ministry is continually a ministry in tension. Jesus is always and fully with us on “the edge of inside,” an equal opportunity comforter and offender who no one knows quite what to do with. Indeed, God is with us in those liminal spaces where we stand between already and not yet, simplicity and complexity, urgency and being still, tears and joy. The Holy Spirit is here.

What significant tensions are you and your ministry context currently navigating or anticipating?

Click here to respond. We’d love to hear from you.

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