So, for the first time in about fourteen years, I’m not involved in official church ministry. I started teaching Sunday School way back in 2003. I was still a new Christian and I hadn’t done my education degree, so mostly I didn’t know what I was doing. But God still used my work, and since then I’ve served in the church in a variety of different ways – Sunday School, youth group, Bible studies. I have seen different ministries rise and fall. I’ve seen little kindergarten girls grow into young women.
God has done many amazing things through my time in ministry but it’s also been hard work. There are seasons where Bible studies are attended regularly and I have people leading things with me. Then, there are the dry seasons where it’s a struggle to get people interested. By the end of last year, there were more weeks than not where people just didn’t come to Bible study at all.
I had a several week break over the Christmas holidays, as usual. I scheduled the two Bible studies I lead to start back in the first week of February. I mapped out the term planner, I prepared that week’s study and, when it came to the day, no-one turned up. To either study. The problems we had last year were continuing into this year. And that’s when I realised, like a wave washing over me – I was really tired. I’d had enough. I was tired of putting effort into something that people didn’t even show up to.
I didn’t want to become tired and cynical about the work I used to be so passionate about. How could I have any integrity as a ministry leader if my heart wasn’t in it? Then, one Saturday night, as I prepared myself to go to church and expend emotional energy on ministries that may not happen, I felt God releasing me. It was okay for me to take a break. I talked it through with my husband and we both came to the assurance that I’d take this year off doing formal ministry in the church. As soon as I actually said it out loud, I felt such a rush of liberation, like something heavy but necessary had been lifted off me.
I was nervous going to church the next day, though. I had to talk with the chairman of our church council and explain my decision. Would he pressure me into continuing? Just that day, in the service, he called for more people to get involved in Bible studies. But he was actually very understanding. He said to me ‘you have to do what God calls you to do’. And with that, I was formally released from church ministry. For the time being, anyway.
I don’t think I’m quitting church ministry forever. And I still see myself as serving God in different ways – my blogging, for example, is something new and exciting. It feels strange not to be involved in any official church ministry, but through this God is reminding me of something important. My salvation and my standing as a beloved child of God isn’t dependent on what I do. I’m loved by God now just as much as if I was leading ten Bible studies. God wants his people to just be with him, and then from that place to be obedient to his call. And for me at the moment, that means stepping down and resting. Whether you’re involved in ministry or not, maybe God is calling you to place of being and resting too.