(T-4-T &) SMS: Get Out of The Rut!

It was my fifth or sixth attempt at the long driveway; blasting through the snow was fun and with each attempt my 4Runner was creating another eight to 10 feet of drivable space.

Closed Course, Do NOT attempt!

I repeated the process: full speed ahead until the car stopped, reverse 100 feet to the flat, shift it back into low-drive, full speed and blast through the virgin powder creating another car length of roadway.

Okay, one more time and I should get through the steepest part and it should get easier.  Full speed ahead until the tires start spinning… reverse… reverse… I said REVERSE!!!! Tires spinning.  Stuck!

Stuck in the snow on my way to the winter-escape cabin.  Rest and bliss on the horizon.  Rest would have to wait.

Being physically stuck, trapped and having my pathway hindered is one of the worst feelings in the world. Somehow it feels like the fourth grade playground bully standing at the bottom step of the slide tormenting the third graders, not letting them climb up the ladder to enjoy the slippery-spiral slope that awaits. “C’mon, let us go!”

Being stuck in a ministry rut often feels the same. Is your ministry stuck? How would you describe your student-ministry rut? Who or what is the bully mocking you?

My 4Runner high centered and got me stuck because I was doing something stupid, repeating a pattern that was only sort-of working. Are you doing the same thing in ministry?

I think a lot of ministries are stuck. Left screaming “c’mon, let us out.”  Rest is on the horizon, but the horizon seems so distant.  Right now it just feels like work.  I’d like to give three suggestions to help you get out of that rut!  Three possible applications that could very well be the solution you need to get “unstuck.”

Teach Something You Don’t Know: Well, it may not be something you don’t know, but at least something you didn’t know before you started teaching it. When you’re excited about what the Lord is teaching you (not just what he previously taught you) your teaching is fresh. Look at what you’ve taught in the last three months, six months, perhaps even the last year, has it all been stuff/series/books you’re somewhat of an expert in already (yes, accuse me of teaching Acts… a lot!)? Dive into Malachi, Habakkuk, Jude or Philemon.  Here’s the shovel suggestion to dig yourself out: Do a series on something unexpected and as you learn perhaps the traction you gain will get you “unstuck.”

Ditch the “Discipleship First” Mentality: Whoa, did I seriously just say that? I love training (discipling) Christian students to live out and speak out the Gospel. The natural end-result of discipleship is multiplication (disciples who make disciples). So many put their efforts into helping the Christian grow deep so they can grow wide.  How’s this working?  How “wide” is your group because of your emphasis on discipleship?  Not saying it is wrong at all, but I will argue that the “fuel” or “spark” for discipleship might actually be a passion for evangelism.  As YOU (yes you, Youth Leader) challenge yourself to love on and lead others to Jesus, you’ll find that you actually need the church (and all it entails: teaching, worship, fellowship, accountability) more. Prioritizing Bible Study, prayer groups, accountability, etc. often leads to complacency in programming and concentration on numbers (guilt for not “performing”). Passionate pursuit of the lonely and lost actually leads to a need for discipleship (to learn the answers you need and get the support you desire). Don’t just make this your priority, but a practice in your ministry! I say, prioritize the lost and see if they may actually lead you out of the rut?

Make a Short-Time Commitment to Something Crazy: I was horrible in French Class; heck, I wasn’t even all that good at English; but because I had a girlfriend who had a deaf sister I decided to learn sign language. You have any idea how many times I’ve been able to converse with many who often go ignored? Sometimes doing something new in your own life will carry over to something new for the ministry.  Sure, it may not be teaching the whole group sign, but what if you committed yourself to something outside of yourself; taking on something new may just get you out of a personal rut that leads to a ministry rut being conquered. Some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Try coaching or even once a week substitute teaching (side benefit: campus ministry and/or additional income)
  • Research and then support a clean-water well in Africa (guarantee you’ll get others involved)
  • Risk in your neighborhood by organizing a “neighborhood watch” group (it will require you to get to know your neighbors)
  • Go on a ride-along once a month with the police department (get a deeper understanding of your city and specifically teens)
  • Become a referee for a youth-league (get yelled at by parents for a different reason)
  • Go on a personal mission trip through an organization or to a missionary your church supports (come home with stories that will change your ministry)

My guess is that doing something completely new will open your mind up to doing something completely new in ministry.  It will literally plow away the old crusty layer and give you a fresh path!

Ministry bliss is fast approaching!



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