15 June 2017

Ministry Moments (Resource Review)

Ministry is filled with many wonderful moments and highlights! Some are easy to recognise: the big ones like achieving a long term church goal or finishing the Christmas season, while others are more difficult to measure, like making it through a hard day in one piece or receiving an encouraging note from a church member who was grateful for your hospitality. It's often these highlights that stay with you and can be encouraging when times in ministry are harder.

While we regularly read and review a wide range of written resources, I was inspired after reading the recent research about self-care and flourishing in ministry to try this practical, low-fuss ministry tool. This resource is a great way to celebrate the great moment in your ministry journey and encourage you in the harder times.
Ministry Moments

Embracing Grace, an American group who care for clergy wives wrote about the importance of being regularly encouraged in ministry, particularly during the harder seasons which are, of course, part of the ministry journey. Their advice is to create a personal encouragement tool, a Ministry Moments folder, to pull out when you need it. The idea is to fill this folder with good moments, highlights, encouragements and achievements from your ministry journey. It might be thank you cards for past ministries, kind words from a church member, inspiring verses, answers to prayer or achievements of ministries you've been part of, little things that made you smile as you go about the day-to-day of ministry life. Read more here. Naturally we couldn't wait to give it a go!

What We Thought

I decided to trial the Ministry Moments project for a month. I immediately began gathering things together and was surprised how quickly my collection grew. Kind emails from people, wrappers from chocolates I'd received, hand-written thank-you cards for talks I'd done, even old sticky notes from research goals I'd achieved lately. It made me realise how readily people gave their encouragement, and how much was happening in my day-to-day ministry. What I was expecting was a finished product that I could turn to when facing a hard time. What I received was much more than that.

I found that for each day during the month, I was actively looking for things to add to my collection.  I added fun or thoughtful memes that inspired me during the day, bible verses that inspired me, and notes from friends who were interested in a ministry project. Within a few weeks, I realised that compiling my Ministry Moments was more than just an end product to turn to when I needed a boost - it was a way to help me find the good things in my ministry, even on the harder days. I think I would have to agree with Embracing Grace; a Ministry Moments is a vital ministry tool!

Getting Started

The beauty of this resource is that it's so easy to start! All you need is a journal or folder (and maybe a nice pen!) to begin. With much of life being online now, you might enjoy having an electronic copy with you close at hand :) Whatever your preference, here's a few things I learned along the way to help make it yours:
  • Give it a personal name or slogan. I quite like 'Thoughts to Keep', 'For Rainy Days' or 'Ministry Smiles'
  • If you love hard copies, invest in a good-quality folder or journal, something that you enjoy having around and writing in.
  • Remember that nothing is too small! I've added hot chocolate receipts from catch ups with a past ministry mentor.
  • If you're on the go, try making an electronic folder on your phone, laptop or tablet. Just take a screenshot of something that comes your way to add as you find them.
  • Take time to stop and look at what's in your folder every now and then, maybe at the end of a long day or while you're waiting in line. 
  • Finally, give yourself permission to be encouraged. Ministry isn't always an easy road and sometimes encouragement or highlights can be hard to come by. But as this resource reminded me, encouragement goes a long way towards caring for yourself in the day to day busyness.
I'd highly recommend this resource to anyone in ministry or a ministry family. In fact, we found this so helpful it's on the short list for our next Resource Giveaway. I hope this inspires you to begin your own Ministry Moments. If you do, we'd love to know what you think of it.

~ Rachel

Australian Clergy Families is a community of support and encouragement for ministry families (http://www.australianclergyfamilies.com)

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