flameBy Rich Doebler

Our ministry should be anointed—empowered by the Spirit.

I think ministry should also be fun. Despite the inevitable hard work, sacrifice, and spiritual warfare, I think ministry should be flavored with activities or programs that appeal to our unchurched neighbors.

One very effective communicator advocated this when he wrote, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Col. 4:5-6, NIV)

So…how do you season your ministry with salt? Share your ideas by clicking the comment button below. (It takes only a moment to sign in…even less if you link it to your Facebook login.)

As an example, here’s one idea:

Playland_bubble-300x225When we added educational and fellowship space to our building a few years ago, we also included an indoor McDonald’s-style playland as a tool to connect with young families in our community.

We had to work through a few issues (like when it would be open to the public and who would be in charge), but overall it’s helped us build bridges to our community. There’s no preaching in the playland, but here’s how it’s worked for us:

  • The playland is open to the public during office hours—five days a week. In northern Minnesota, especially on rainy days or in the winter, we have perhaps the only dry, warm-weather gathering spot in town. Parents (or grandparents) bring kids to climb and slide, often bringing snacks or lunch to eat in our adjoining “Family Room.”
  • Our receptionist (or other staff on hand) welcomes young families coming into our building. We want unchurched people especially to know that they are welcome here (and that we’re regular people with kids of our own). Our children’s director, especially, has been able to connect with a number of families this way.
  • Three times each week families can rent the playland for private birthday parties. Rental fees allow us to hire a host who assists with their party needs. More importantly, the host engages our guests in grace-filled conversations.
  • The playland has raised the community awareness of our church. Area preschools, daycares, businesses, and others now take advantage of our playland and will bring groups of kids to enjoy it.

Is the playland “anointed”? Not really…unless you count the cleaning fluid used to sanitize the slides, mats, and door handles. It’s also not a catalyst for revival (or anything as dramatic as that). But our playland has served as a practical tool to help us connect with our neighbors, some of whom have later attended worship services. It helps us build relationships, and it lets our community know that we’re here to serve them.People driving by notice the playland, which is prominently displayed on the street side of our building. That has sparked conversations with church members:

Why does your church have a playland? Answer: Because we care about families in our town and want them to know about the love of God.  We think our playland provides one way to act wisely toward outsiders.


Now, tell us what ideas have worked for you!

Rich Doebler is Senior Pastor of Journey Christian Church in Cloquet, Minnesota and also serves as a Fellowship Elder for the Upper-Midwest and also chairs the FCA Media Board.

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