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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

There are many challenges to developing a non-profit ministry. Defining what you are, what is the God-created/inspired purpose for the ministry is vital. As individuals we all need to strive to know and understand our created purpose in order to find success; the same rings true for ministry organizations. As I continue to develop Shiloh’s Lighthouse Ministry I am at times amused by the many “experts” who try to add their voice into what SLM is or should be. To me it is a lot like our new softball team. A group of ‘too old to play competitive sports’ to ‘young and don’t know what in the world they are doing’ cast of characters that has gathered together and formed a team to play in our local YMCA Church Softball league. FYI—I fall into the too old to play competitively part of the team—yet I’m happy to be healthy enough to get out there and enjoy the fun and fellowship.

As our team started practicing I got a kick out of the abundance of “experts” offering advice to those who were struggling at the plate to hit the ball. “Put your back elbow up.” “Get back in the batter’s box.” “Move up in the batter’s box.” “Move you back foot!” “Move your front foot!” “Keep your eye on the ball!” A vast cacophony of voices ringing out to where that the poor person at the plate was being overwhelmed … well meaning advice that ended up only adding to their confusion. I often am on the receiving end of a large number of voices that try to tell me what SLM should be: “We’ll really grow when we….” 

As a younger man I often fell victim to being a crowd pleaser—doubting myself and my calling just enough to find myself at yet another dead end ministry street wondering where I made the wrong turn.

When I was living in Blacksburg, VA I was moving forward on a great ministry opportunity. I had found an empty 1920s area hotel that was perfect for a boy’s home. I formed a steering committee to help develop the non-profit ministry that would run it. Social Service agencies all were excited as the area totally lacked placement opportunities and they had to spend extra finances out of their budgets to place boys out of their counties. Politicians wanted to be there for the ribbon cutting ceremony. I was cooking along and then it all just stopped. Phone calls ended and were not returned, donors suddenly went other directions with their giving, the steering committee fell apart and I was suddenly alone in the effort. So, wise spiritual man that I am, I decided I should ask God what was happening. He told me I had been working on a good idea, but … not a God idea.  I was traveling on a dead end street.

It is often too easy to run ahead of God or away from God thinking you are on the right path. The ministry path God has set out for SLM is not an easy one. Ministering to at-risk youth, the poor, dysfunctional and hurting of society is not glamorous stuff. Sunday services lack the polish of larger churches, and the dirty work of dealing with the many broken lives that come through the doors each week is tiresome and challenging. The constant need to raise finances to keep the doors open is emotionally and physically exhausting. Yet this is the ministry God has called me to have here in Saginaw and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

What I can tell you is, lives are being changed here. Oftentimes it is not pretty and a great deal of the stories are ones that I won’t share publically. For those of you who call SLM your church home, know that you are part of so much more than a church—you are part of a ministry that is daily impacting lives in need here in Saginaw. For those of you who financially support this ministry—thank you! Yes, it’s true I don’t ask for big donations—just $20 per month—but let me tell you, your $.66 per day is helping transform broken lives into lives that have hope, direction and purpose. SLM might not be pretty, but it is a ministry God has brought into existence for such a time as this.

A reminder that this month we will start sending out in the mail a monthly newsletter. If you would like to receive it, please email ( me your postal address.

Keep the faith …


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