Monday, April 29, 2013

Writing to supporters when nothing amazing is happening

Whether you send out ministry updates weekly or annually, you probably ask yourself the same question each time: what is worth sharing with my support team? In other words, what has God used me to accomplish recently?

Perhaps you have a story of one, ten or a hundred people coming to Christ. Or maybe you were part of a huge event where there was fantastic teaching, moving worship and engaging discussion. It could be that you had significant conversations with unbelievers who were asking deep questions. Each of those is a no-brainer: put it in your ministry update!

But sometimes, the best answer I can come up with is, "Not much." Yup. That's it. Just not much to say, really.

It's not that God isn't doing anything. It's just that at this particular moment in time, God isn't using me to accomplish anything flashy. God is good, but there's simply not much to write home about.

Now you may object and say that God is always at work doing amazing things. I don't disagree. It's just that not everything you do in ministry is worthy of being retweeted by Tim Keller and Andy Stanley. Assuming you're staying in touch with your support team with at some decent degree of regularity, you'll simply have times where there isn't much to report.

If that bothers you, please listen carefully to this next truth.

Ready?

It's okay.

Let me give you a few Biblical reasons for that:
  1. The Bible is chock-full of agricultural analogies. Anyone who knows anything about agriculture knows that it's mostly repetitive, not-particularly-noteworthy work which is occasionally broken up by a flurry of interesting activity. If a farmer were to send you a report of his latest news, he may never even mention the things he's spent most of his day doing. It's not that it isn't valuable; it's just not a big deal.
  2. The Bible is chock-full of stories about people. Important people. Doing important things. But sometimes the Bible just says, "When Seth had lived 105 years, he fathered Enosh. Seth lived after he fathered Enosh 807 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died." (Genesis 5:6-8) That's just about all we know about Seth. When the author of Genesis penned those lines, he asked himself, "What's important to share about Seth?" That was his answer. But what else happened during those 912 years?? Nothing worth writing about.
  3. The Bible is chock-full of stories that point to, are about or look back to Jesus Christ. Yet the last verse in John's gospel says, "Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." (John 21:25) In other words: there were lots more things Jesus did. Really important things. Many of those things were probably miraculous. But it wasn't written in John's book - and that's okay. John didn't feel the need to apologize. He was simply letting us know.
Now to be clear, I'm not suggesting that you only write to your supporters when you're doing something amazing. I'm just trying to reassure you that a lack of amazing things to share doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you or your ministry.

But instead of skipping an update, why not share your heart? (1 Thess 2:8) Share about something you're learning in God's Word. Share a book or blog recommendation. Share your dreams for the ministry. Tell a story from someone doing similar (or different!) work in another part of the ministry. Or simply ask for prayer. Remember that you're writing an encouragement to your partners in the gospel (3 John 8) - not a defense to a jury waiting to convict you.

So what is worth sharing with your support team? You are - even when nothing amazing is happening.