I am currently doing some work for a seminar for new ministers and so I have been thinking about avoiding burnout in ministry. I have come to the conclusion that perhaps the most effective way to avoid burn out in ministry is to ensure that we keep spiritual vitality in and expressed through, our ministry. I am defining vitality in ministry, as a ministry that is personally challenging and fulfilling, missionally and pastorally effective and sustainable.
I have had some experience of using the Triangle from Mike Breen and 3DM’s LifeShapes discipleship programme and it seemed to me to offer a way of conceptualizing what I have been thinking about
My thesis is that vitality in ministry comes when we are actively involved in all three of these dimensions of ministry and that when we neglect one of these dimensions then vitality starts to drain away and we begin to experience spiritual dryness, loneliness or ineffectiveness. If these issues are not addressed our ministry wont be sustainable in any meaningful sense and we will harm ourselves, those we serve and disappoint the Lord who has called us.
So vitality in ministry comes when we intentionally appraise our involvement in these areas personally and with others in a group which involves some degree of accountability. This is in turn makes ministry sustainable in the long run.
As I was thinking about all of this and whether I could think of any examples in church history, it struck me that you could these three elements intentionally included in rule that John Wesley’s HOLY CLUB at Oxford lived by.
Here is what they agreed
1. an intention to yield one’s life to God completely, for God’s glory, and become like Jesus Christ (Vitality in Ministry)
2. rising at 4 or 5 a.m. to pray (Up)
3. fasting two days a week until 3 p.m. (Up)
4. meeting regularly to discuss Scripture and other Christian texts (In)
5. accountability at those regular meetings (In)
6. weekly reception of the Eucharist (Up)
7. reading and meditating on Scripture daily (Up)
8. acting in compassion for the poor, prisoners, and the elderly (Out)
9. pursuing simple living (Out)
So what do you think?
Perhaps this is why the members of the Holy Club like John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield had such long and significant ministries marked by spiritual vitality ?
I wonder what a “Rule of Life” for a contemporary church leader might look like that enshrine these three dimensions of UP, IN & OUT?