Camp was almost over. The Spirit had been doing some incredible things in our midst. Some of the students wrote cards to their Bible study leaders to encourage them. As I was walking to the dining hall, one student handed over a simple notecard with a message that fanned my ministry flame.
“Hey Trav, Thanks for a great sermon last night. Loved seeing you out and about and hanging with campers.”
At first glance, the brevity of the message might cause you to miss the seismic meaning. In it, she thanked me for a sermon and a presence. I’ll be honest – I needed this reminder. It came at the right time. For the kind comment she made, I knew I could do better in both of those areas, but it would not happen by accident. I needed to focus on developing the public and the personal side of the ministry to that camp.
Too often in ministry do we highlight the one to the neglect of the other.
We often pit ministry ability and availability as competing goals, but, in reality, they are complimentary parts of the whole. To impact people significantly, we cannot neglect either the public or the personal side of ministry.
Ministry is what happens on and off the platform.
Ministry has a public side and a personal side.
Ministry is both ability and availability.
Can you focus on one to the detriment of the other? For sure. Some days I could spend more time with campers because the sermon was in decent shape, and some days I needed a little more time in the prayer closet and the study to make sure I was ready. I could be so available that preaching suffered, but I could also be so isolated that the connection would be lacking. We must find a balance.
The Apostle Paul revealed this balanced greatly. In his farewell speech to the elders at Ephesus whom he loved greatly, he said:
how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to houseActs 20:20
Did you catch it? He was preaching in public, and yet he was personable in private. He was in the big rooms, and yet he never got so big that he couldn’t be in the small circles.
Platform ministry can never replace relational ministry.
You can have all the ability in the world, yet if you insulate yourself, you hinder the depth of a ministry because you are unable to know people on a deep level.
Your availability provides the credibility that any ministry needs to have lasting impact.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.