iceberg ministry

When I was little I decided that I wanted to be a Baptist Minister. It was a naive wish. It was based on a WYSIWYG assumption – that what you see is what you get as far as Ministers go, and all they do is prepare sermons and services. That sounded like a good life.

Antarctic Iceberg #4When I got bigger that desire did not diminish. Indeed I found that it was something God had placed within me. But I discovered that there is a little bit more to being a Minister than my naive WYSIWYG assumption. Baptist Ministers are like icebergs. No, not hard and cold and immersed in water. Most of what we do is unseen beneath the surface.

When I was employed by the Baptist Union of Great Britain in the Mission Department (before coming to Colchester) I was often asked, “How many people work at Baptist House?”

My cheeky answer was usually, “Most of us.”

I have had a similar facetious response to the question, “What do you do in an average week?”

“If I ever have an average week,” I say, “I’ll let you know.”

But both those answers are inadequate and unfair to the questioner, so here’s an attempt at describing what goes on underneath the surface. All of this is only possible because God is in me.

Leading Sunday services and preaching.

Preparation for services and sermons. (No, even though they may appear to be made up as I go along there is some work that happens beforehand!)

Visiting people – in their homes, hospital, workplace, coffee shops, or meeting them at the church. These sometimes happen by ‘accident’ (or Design?) and sometimes because God has put their name in my mind at the right time, or he has put me in the right place at the right time, or because it felt like it was time I saw them again.

Reading – that is the art of learning and growing through interacting with books, not going to the town in Berkshire.

Praying – sometimes in my study or at the church, often as I walk or drive around and pass someone or something that reminds me of people I know who are in need of prayer as well as using prayer diaries. I also try to have an attitude of gratitude and thank God when things go well.

Meeting people for a purpose – this is a step beyond the pastoral visits and may be a meeting to discuss a specific issue in someone’s life, an aspect of the church’s ministry or mission, meeting other ministers for encouragement, planning events and activities, meeting with committees to oversee the life and mission of the church (relatively few in our church), Church Meetings, preparing people to be baptised, and so on…

Mission – working with local schools in assemblies and having them come to our church as part of their curriculum or for special events, trying to find ways we can be better neighbours in our location, talking with local shopkeepers, meeting Council officials, helping out in Open Door, talking to people about Jesus, trying to be a good free sample of Jesus, building friendships, praying for people, working with others in our church in their mission activities…

Special Privileges – taking (or taking part in) thanksgiving services and funerals, weddings, baptising people, infant presentations…

Anything else God throws my way…

And. oh yes, blogging a bit too – reflecting on what is happening in my life and what God may be saying to me about it.

In September I have the privilege of three months’ sabbatical leave. This is made available to Baptist Ministers every seven years of their Ministry. I intend to explore issues around growing churches and how we plan for growth, given that we are a growing church but have not yet done a lot of planning and preparation for coping with that growth.

During my Sabbatical leave, an average week (if there will be one) is:

Leading Sunday services and preaching.

Preparation for services and sermons.

Visiting people – in their homes, hospital, workplace, coffee shops, or meeting them at the church. These sometimes happen by ‘accident’ (or Design?) and sometimes because God has put their name in my mind at the right time, or he has put me in the right place at the right time, or because it felt like it was time I saw them again.  I hope to visit a number of churches around the country that have been our size and grown to see what we might learn from their experience.

Reading – that is the art of learning and growing through interacting with books, not going to the town in Berkshire. Lots more of this than is possible normally.

Praying – sometimes in my study or at the church, often as I walk or drive around and pass someone or something that reminds me of people I know who are in need of prayer as well as using prayer diaries. I also try to have an attitude of gratitude and thank God when things go well.

Meeting people for a purpose – this is a step beyond the pastoral visits and may be a meeting to discuss a specific issue in someone’s life, an aspect of the church’s ministry or mission, meeting other ministers for encouragement, planning events and activities, meeting with committees to oversee the life and mission of the church (relatively few in our church), Church Meetings, preparing people to be baptised, and so on…

Mission – working with local schools in assemblies and having them come to our church as part of their curriculum or for special events, trying to find ways we can be better neighbours in our location, talking with local shopkeepers, meeting Council officials, helping out in Open Door, talking to people about Jesus, trying to be a good free sample of Jesus, building friendships, praying for people…

Special Privileges – taking (or taking part in) thanksgiving services and funerals, weddings, baptising people, infant presentations…

And. oh yes, blogging a bit too – reflecting on what is happening in my life and what God may be saying to me about it. I am not sure whether the bloggages will continue during my sabbatical leave… that may depend on how the mood takes me!

Space to think, reflect, pause, plan…

Go on a retreat.

Anything else God throws my way…

Come back  even more refreshed than I feel now.

So, that may help you understand a bit more about what a Minister does. It also helps me realise how much I need the support, wisdom and understanding of my family and friends!

Be blessed, be a blessing.

A world-renowned preacher, evangelist and entrepreneur for God (one person, not three) had the ability to speak for ages at a time in a sermon and hold the congregation enthralled. However on one occasion he seemed to have lost the attention of one person at the back who raised one arm and pointed at the watch on it to indicate that it was time for the preacher to stop.

“Praise the Lord!” shouted the preacher when he saw this. “That man at the back is giving his watch to support global mission!”

3 thoughts on “iceberg ministry”

  1. Good Morning, at least it is morning in Evansville, Indiana: (This is basically what I wrote before I hit the wrong key.) May I share your ‘Iceberg Blog’ with pastors in this part of Indiana? What credit line should I use? I am an old, 84 years young, retired pastor-four years, missionary-35 years, am now serving in my 15th interim pastorate since retirement. Grace and peace from our Redeemer and Lord, Dale Maddux

    1. Hi – thank you for the email. You are very welcome to share it if it is helpful. If you want to refer anyone to this blog, that’s fine, otherwise just my name, Nick Lear is more than enough.

      Bless you

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