In the two previous blog posts, we reviewed how to see your neighborhood with fresh eyes and how to reach out to your neighbors with a fresh perspective.  We now move on in our “fresh” series to explore how to build new and authentic relationships through fresh ministries.  Fresh ministries may mean something brand new.  It could also mean freshening up an existing ministry with a fresh approach or perhaps a more focused approach for our neighbors rather than our existing congregants.

Before we go too far in thinking about new ministries or freshening up existing ministries, it is a good time to remind ourselves about ministry shelf lives.  Remember, every ministry has an expiration date!  The end goal is not to see how long a ministry can last.  Rather, it’s important to determine how effective a ministry is.  The purpose of any ministry is to mature our existing disciples or to introduce new people to Christ.  If it is not doing one of those two things effectively, we need to celebrate the life of the ministry and give it a funeral.  So rather than adding another new ministry to your already busy church calendar, what do you need to stop before starting something new?  The evaluation of these ministries may also lead you to a ministry that if it were freshened up a bit could be more effective.

As we explore fresh ministry options, be sure to circle back to the two previous blog posts on seeing with fresh eyes and reaching out with fresh perspectives.  In order to build new and authentic relationships, we have to be sure we are “seeing” clearly with a fresh lens and reach out with an open and curious fresh perspective.  If we don’t first employ these two vital strategies first, we will likely not launch a fresh ministry that will build authentic new relationships with our neighbors.

Next, we must be willing to experiment.  The fresh ministry may need to be tweaked along the way or perhaps even ditched and something new tried in its place.  The idea is to be willing to try new things with an emphasis on the relational ministries with the neighbors.  Be clear on what the ministry’s purpose is and what you are trying to accomplish upfront so you can clearly identify if the ministry is indeed fulfilling that outcome effectively, building new relationships with your neighbors, and making any necessary adjustments.

We must let go of the expectation of people showing up on Sunday.  For some, showing up for worship on Sunday will never be a reality.  For others, it may come eventually.  For a very few, it may come sooner rather than later.  Instead, we must be focused on openly, graciously, lovingly, and courageously investing in getting to know our neighbors and engaging in doing life alongside them in authentic ways that can build relationships over time.  One-and-done types of events are usually not effective.  Instead, choose a group of people with a shared affinity who you can continue to connect with repeatedly over an extended period of time.

If you and your church leaders are ready to explore new terrains and check out new ministry tools needed to journey through uncharted ministry possibilities, consider taking a journey on the Greatest Expedition.  The purpose of The Greatest Expedition is to provide a pioneering experience for your church leaders to explore your local context in new ways to develop new MAPS (ministry action plans) so you can become more relevant and contextual to reach new people in your neighborhood. Whether you are just getting started as an explorer and need an Essentials Pack or are more advanced and ready for the Expansion Pack, the Greatest Expedition will provide the tools for building new, authentic relationships through fresh ministries with your neighbors.