The other day a friend asked me what my “philosophy of ministry” was. My answer was simple: put it on the calendar.
You can go on and on about theology and philosophy and systems and blah-blah-blah. The fact is that what you really value is pretty easy to measure. Just look at how people spend their time and money.
We make time for the things that matter. For the missionary, this will mean having three interwoven calendars: Sacramental, Missional and Organizational. These three elements will create a new “liturgical year” for your church community.
For centuries, the church tradition has found it wise to set aside certain days (Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, etc.) to remember the pivotal moments in the story of scripture. Likewise, the seasons of Advent, Lent and ordinary time provide extended opportunities to reflect and repent.
Most churches have a regular practice of Eucharist (also called the Lord’s Supper, and communion). There are the weekly practices of worship gatherings, small groups and Christian education.
All churches have these “sacramental” calendars. Not all churches thoughtfully embrace them. However, if we believe that certain teachings and practices are important, then we have to schedule them.
A few suggestions for a sacramental calendar would include:
- Teaching on baptism and discipleship, including baptismal celebrations.
- Visiting the poor and imprisoned
- Teaching on biblical approaches to sexuality
- Sabbathing together
The liturgical calendar some churches use today developed over centuries. Practices can often be traced back to well meaning church leaders trying to repackage local traditions to teach about the way of Jesus. Rather than blindly embracing the Roman or Anglican calendar, we should strive to build a calendar for our cities and neighborhoods.
What are the key moments in your city’s calendar? This is easy in Austin because we are obsessed with festivals and football. In spring, we have South by Southwest, and in the fall we have Austin City Limits. In between we have everything from a yearly kite festival to a massive art studio tours.
The people in your church will be involved in your city’s events. The question is: How can you use our city’s calendar to teach the way of Jesus?
Every Church has foundational organizational practices that have to be revisited each year. This might include a vision-casting sermon series or a vote on the budget.
For many people in your church, the organization is a mystery. Questions like “Who does what?” “Where does our money go?” remain unanswered.
A few helpful organizational events worth putting on your calendar might include:
- Membership classes
- Feedback opportunities (using the Appreciative Inquiry model)
- Leadership retreats
It all comes down to this: if something matters, you’ll make time for it. So put it on the calendar.
What is so important you put it on your calendar every year?