It occurs to me that some of y’all are only recently joining me on this #JourneyInMissions and perhaps I haven’t had the opportunity to share with you what it is that I actually do, so I wanted to take a bit and go into a little more detail about what ministry can look like for me on a weekly basis.
Hungary once had a deeply religious heritage, but with the rise of Secularism that began with the Enlightenment and the rise and fall of communism in the 20th century they’ve largely abandoned that heritage, though many still culturally identify as Catholics. Less than 14% of the population regularly attends ANY sort of religious service and only about 2.5% claim to have a personal relationship with Christ. In this post-Christian era many people have a skewed image of who God is and what knowing him means. Sharing the Good News requires a much more relational approach as people often are simply not interested in the idea becoming “religious”.
With that in mind, let’s look a little closer at what ministry is for me (or at least what it has been over the last (almost) three weeks.
Dirty knees and dish-rags: during my first week in Hungary one of the first things that I got to do was dust window sills (our church has a lot of them as most of the “walls” are semi-transparent windows) because the Ministry of Chairs is important. What is the ministry of chairs? The ministry of chairs began with the idea that there is someone who comes and sets up chairs for church services or events, but people rarely notice that it gets done much less who did it unless it doesn’t get done, yet the ministry of chairs really embodies anything that gets done in the church that is essential but doesn’t necessarily get noticed—from janitorial work, to hanging out with babies, or promoting that exciting event coming up on Facebook. The ministry of chairs is simple but powerful.
Movie nights with friends: the first week I was here I was invited to movie night at a new friends house to celebrate her birthday and while I was there I got to meet new friends and start building relationships with some of them who attend our church or who might in the future. Another night I went out with a few friends to see a movie and it was great and so was our journey back home together (we all live in roughly the same direction).
Paperwork and Powerpoints: neither are exciting but both are important parts of running a church, and so along with lots of much more fun tasks I will be doing (and have already done) at Riverside church. I must thing these things are important if I’m willing to adjust to using the church’s Mac because I haven’t used a Mac since the brightly colored plastic iMacs in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s. In all, well some. seriousness I do believe these things are important and I have the time and skills (or ability to learn skills) to do them and to take them off of my mentors’ hands.
Coffee dates with friends: one of my key goals is to have coffee with every university student and young adult who attends Riverside church, no matter how long they’ll be here for. Why? Because everyone who walks through our church doors is important yet sometimes as a young person it is hard to get plugged in.
Game night at my house: I wholeheartedly believe that the best way to get to know people is by eating food and playing games, so on Friday that’s what we did. I had several students from our young adults group (which is one of my primary areas of ministry) and even a new friend. I am excited to host MANY game nights, movie nights, etc. during my time here because, well, I love getting to know people in a way that only an overly competitive game of Dutch Blitz can bring about.
EXIT semester debut & weekly gatherings: starting this week we’ll be launching the Riverside church young adults group, EXIT, for the semester (it has been on a temporary hiatus due to the holidays and mid-year break between semesters) which will meet weekly for discussions, teachings, worship, and much more. Many young people who grew up in the church will walk away in their twenties, but those who find a strong Christian community to be a part of are far less likely to walk away and embrace Secularism. Young people are looking for something real, for people who are more interested in authentic relationship than “evangelizing” and moving on, so our goal as a young adults ministry is that people would come and see that there is something real, and raw, and exciting, and fulfilling to this Jesus thing.
Mid-week Bible study: this one’s kind of self-explanatory, we meet weekly to learn more about the Bible. Also, I may be attending another Bible study during the week as long as my schedule permits.
Events, building projects, serving coffee, Sunday morning greeting, and so much more: because of what I do ministry is not always going to be totally obvious because the truth is that it’s going to be lots and lots of little things that all work together to build up the Church and to bring the hope that comes through the Good News of a God who humbled himself, lived as a man, died a criminal’s death, and raised to life again all so that we could be reconciled to him (Philippians 2), and to show the secular world that to live in response to that message is a blessing and not a burden because this is the message of hope that the remaining 97.5% of Hungary deserves the opportunity to hear.
It’s hard to capture ministry in a photograph, so my promise is this: I will try to often share about the ministry that I get to participate in because those of you who are on my partnership team are also participating in it. Sometimes I will forget to share what is going on because it takes 30 seconds to post a picture but sometimes 30 minutes to accurately share what is happening in ministry. I promise that, whether I remember to share about it or not, I will never quit working toward spreading the Good News.
Here is what I ask: if you have questions, ask them! I would love to answer them, so please shoot me an email or a private Facebook message and I will do my best to answer promptly and thoroughly.