What has God called you to do? I believe everyone has a gifted role they are designed to fill here on earth. Our talents equip us to reach people for Jesus. I'm not just talking about teachers, preachers, or nurses- I mean everyone! I used to think serving God meant having a ministry oriented career but I am learning that God is much more out-of-the-box than that! Your ministry can be your "side hustle". It can be something you do throughout your life alongside your career or "church duties". Ministries are lifelong endeavors and they are often fluid; they change as you change.
With that in mind, why does it seem like so many people are lost in understanding how to apply their talents to gospel work? If our ministry can be anything, regardless of career or church policy, why is it so hard to find our place or understand our role? I have spoken on this in the past in regard to recognizing our callings (read my post here) but today I want to emphasize the practical side of starting or creating your own ministry.
Here are 5 ways to strengthen your natural gifts and effectively apply them to ministry and outreach!
Make a list of things you like to do- ministry is meant to be fun and fulfilling! Although not every activity is "traditionally" thought of as a ministry, it totally can be. Some examples of ministry gifts that can go overlooked are baking, painting, photography, sewing, farming, planting, construction, finance, fundraising, and more!
Find a need- once you know what you like to do, it is time to apply it to something in your community. This could mean partnering with a local church or doing something independently. Do your research! Find out what is already being done well or what organizations are established in regards to your abilities. It can be tempting to dive into something whole-heartedly as soon as the idea pops into your head, but it is worth your time (and saves a lot of hassle) if you first analyze what is already being done well in your area. As the old saying goes, "No need to re-invent the wheel!".
Narrow your focus- the majority of people who I have met in ministry who experience burnout made the mistake of taking on too much too soon. It is very easy and even tempting to see all the needs in your community or in the world and want to take on everything all at once. Focus on one very specific need or group of people. Once you are established or experienced in that one area, God can help you know what the next steps are to take. Start small and then you will grow! Remember that ministry is a lifelong dedication- not a race!
Build your network- Some ministries are suitable to be operated or run by one person (this blog is an example!), while other types of ministries need a team. Regardless of if you are independent or a team, it is important to build your network. Everyone will have moments of discouragement or challenge, and it is in those moments that God can speak to you through a support system. Your network can include your friends, family, church, or even simply be people who like and recognize what you are doing. Whoever is in your circle, allow yourself to connect with them, share ideas, collaborate, and listen to each other's thoughts. One of the main ways ministries succeed is through their connections with other successful people and programs.
Utilize social media- This point, pairs nicely with point #4. Like it or not we live in an extremely digital world and as society moves online, we also must move our ministries online. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, even Tik Tok in some ways can become a tool to spread and share what you are doing with others.
In everything that we do, we must also remember to pray and let God be the ultimate director of our plans and services. Aside from burnout, another major factor in failed ministry attempts is drama- drama between people or organizations or even communities. The devil knows that the best way to keep people from learning about Jesus is to distract them with the faults of humans. When you choose to get involved in ministry, you must understand that you are engaging with spiritual warfare- but this isn't something to fear! When we allow Christ to lead, he will take our efforts and magnify them for his glory.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ... Ephesians 4: 11-13