Find It Only Here On Friday: Relationship – The Active Ingredient
Michele Morin blogs at Living Our Days
where she writes about the books she is reading,
the grace she is receiving, and the truth from God that she is trusting.
She has been married to a patient man for 26 years
and is Mum to four young men and a daughter-in-love.
Her days are spent homeschooling, reading piles of books,
and, in the summer, tending a beautiful (but messy) garden and canning the vegetables.
 

Michele is also an inspiring regular contributor (LifeWriter) here at LifeLetter Café
and is today’s featured contributor to “Find It Only Here On Friday.”
Her Café exclusive “Relationship: The Active Ingredient” can be found below . . BUT FIRST . .
the Café thought you just might want to know how an Encouragement Leader like Michele Morin
has been encouraged in her own faith recently. 

In her own words… 

I’m digging into a study of I Corinthians – one chapter a week,
and no commentaries allowed until Thursday.
It is stretching my faith in God the Revealer of Truth to sit with my questions,
to use the cross-references, to read and re-read,
trusting for insight and allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture.

 

Today’s Find It Only Here On Friday
“Relationship: The Active Ingredient”
by Michele Morin

Life-changing! …

When I was fifteen, I attended a ten-day training event in preparation for a summer of children’s ministry.  For the life of me, I’ll never remember what possessed me to think that I could hold the attention of a group of kids – or that I would dare to open my mouth and say hi to the other teens in attendance!  Even so, tears, nausea, and ten days later, there I was – still fearful, but holding onto the promise of God’s enablement and ready to travel from church to church, teaching outdoor Bible clubs for six weeks.

Some program, huh? …

From shy, cringing, and silent soul to ninja summer missionary warrior in ten days?

Not quite.  The active ingredient in this recipe was relationship.  Godly women, committed to pouring their lives into the spiritual development of a herd of teens, took the time to pray with me, to look for the promise and possibility behind my eye-concealing bangs and nerdy clothes, all with the intent of polishing a very rough and nearly invisible gift for teaching

One of these women, putting her “real life” on hold, left her office and her ringing phone to travel with me to the very tip-top of northern Maine for a week of ministry.  With her white pumps and panty hose, standing nearly six-feet tall, she was a gray heron surrounded by an unruly sea of children.  In the hot sun of someone’s back yard, she sat on a blanket with the kids while I taught the Bible lesson, and then gently critiqued and offered suggestions each evening for a better lesson the next day.

Flash forward nearly forty years …

and that amazing, life-changing training program is still going strong, only this time, one of my sons and a handful of his friends from our small village church would be attending.

“Hallelujah!” we all sang in the key of hope.  “Our children’s ministry staffing headaches will soon be over, because we are sending our youth away to be trained!”

End of story? …

Not quite.  After the kids returned, we planned — around hot dogs and s’mores — and made assignments for a week of hands-on ministry.  Everyone would have the opportunity to try every aspect of the teaching hour during our week of 5-Day Clubs.  They practiced, listened, and offered feedback to one another, and when they were ready, once again — a generation later — children sat on a blanket and learned the truth about a God who loves them.  The kids idolized their young teachers, and the Gospel went forth with power.  Every day we conducted a post-mortem on the teaching hour, always working for a better club, clearer teaching, and more fun for the kids.  Day by day, a band of goofy teens, friends together since the church nursery, was being transformed into a skilled ministry team.

This ministry model built on relationship …

resulted in the development of spiritual gifts in the teens, the proclamation of the gospel to the clubbers — and a series of questions that have been percolating in my heart ever since.  I wonder what would happen if relationship was seen as the active ingredient in all our avenues of ministry?  For instance, what if instead of herding our kids out of the sanctuary for children’s church, we connected each one with a caring adult who would sit with her and explain the order of service; who would run a finger down the page of the hymnal to teach congregational singing; who would explain why the offering is part of worship and that communion is not just a snack for adults?

Is this not a truer, richer introduction to worship than another hour of teacher-centered instruction?

What would happen if, at our next women’s conference, spiritually mature women led small group discussion circles following each plenary session?  Is it possible that connections would be made that would result in deeper understanding of the Word, meaningful prayer sessions, and the development of spiritual friendships?  What a lovely program outcome!

Don’t misunderstand me — I think programs are great …

Why reinvent the wheel when you can tap into resources developed by experienced and creative thinkers who have written curriculum and planned an agenda?  However, we miss the boat when we imagine that programs will carry the day for us without our own hands-on, hearts-engaged connection with the participants in that program.

Like spiritual disciplines that create a space in which we meet God, a program is also a space-holder, a fruitful opportunity to know and to be known, to become aware of individual needs, gifting and potential.   Trusting to the efficiency of a program alone, we follow an industrial model of discipleship — low-maintenance, but also low-impact.  When we bypass relationship in ministry, we suffocate a living, breathing organism, for this is what Jesus intended His church to be.

“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses,
commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also,”
– II Timothy 2:2 –

I like to picture Apollos, sitting in Priscilla and Aquila’s kitchen, a pot of stew simmering on the stove, the three of them strategizing for Apollos’s next missionary journey.  Priscilla is up to her elbows in bread dough — and is that a rough draft of Hebrews in a flour-dusted pile on the counter top?

This is the biblical model for incarnational ministry, for breathing the grace that we have received and the truth that we know into another person, into another generation.  Jesus, the God with skin on, demonstrated with conversation and confrontation, with bread and his own broken body, that He is relational.  We are most like Him when we take a step back from our ministry machines, our goals and our staffing plans, and then sit down on a blanket on a warm summer day beside a child who is meeting the Son for the very first time.

 

 

 

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About the author : Michele Morin

Michele Morin

Michele Morin blogs at Living Our Days where she writes about the books she is reading, the grace she is receiving, and the truth from God that she is trusting. She has been married to a patient man for 26 years and is Mum to four young men and a daughter-in-love. Her days are spent homeschooling, reading piles of books, and, in the summer, tending a beautiful (but messy) garden and canning the vegetables.

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