Changes being implemented in the ministry
I am officially back in the office following the six-month writing sabbatical. The good news is that the rough draft of the book is finished. I expect to have the final edit completed in the next month or so. If I can secure a publisher, the book would likely be available the end of this year or the beginning of next year. If I cannot find a publisher, then I would simply self-publish sometime this fall. We will see how it all plays out.
What I am most excited about is a renewed focus and clarity for my life and ministry. During the past few months, God has been at work in my life. I am refreshed in spirit. I also have a better understanding of weaknesses inherent in my personality and have a better plan to improve on those areas going forward.
During the sabbatical I sought counsel from my board and other close friends into how I could do ministry better. I’ve been on the road for 25 years. It can be exhausting. Frankly, at the end of last fall before the sabbatical began, I was ready to quit. But I genuinely love God and love serving him. So how can I serve God more effectively? What is the best way to use the abilities God has given to me? Are there things that I can improve or change so that I am not so exhausted from the demands of being on the road? How do I do this?
Over the years the ministry has transitioned several times in key ways. Back in the 80s when I began, all I did was music and concerts, no preaching or teaching. At some point the ministry transitioned, and I began to do some preaching and teaching along with a full schedule of music related events. In time the ministry transitioned again to where the primary focus of ministry was the preaching and teaching, with only 15% of scheduled events involving music. Currently, in order to utilize my time and resources most effectively, I am only scheduling events where I have the primary role of communication such as preaching, conferences, and full concerts. This means I am no longer coming in for events where I am the worship leader or special music. It is another natural transition as God continues to change things up. This allows me to focus my energy on the speaking side of the ministry where I have the opportunity to share my passion for authentic relationship with God and loving others.
I also believe God is in the process of transitioning the ministry yet again. My board and I agree that one way to improve is to refine the focus of ministry. As I look ahead, my prayer is that the writing side of the ministry will become the primary vehicle for ministry with a limited number of speaking events each year. This is the area where I see God most clearly at work. I really believe God has his hand on the book I am working on. My prayer is that the book would begin a process of expanding influence over all of North America. I know this sounds crazy, but I believe this is what God is doing. The idea is to let the book go into every church in North America instead of me trying to physically go to every church.
Of course, in all things related to the future, I am just guessing. I am not the guy who calls the shots. I am simply the servant. So we will see what God has planned.
Another change is that the board has asked me to stay in hotels whenever possible, instead of homes. In the past, the vast majority of housing arrangements were for me to stay with a family in the church. I love meeting new people and have made great friends through the years by staying in their homes. But the reality is that I need to be alone to recharge. This is part of how God created me. It is one reason I am so comfortable being single and living alone. I need to be completely quiet in order to recharge. When I am on the road and staying in homes, I never have that time to recharge. I have to be “on” 24/7. By the end of a week of meetings, I am completely exhausted and pretty much useless for ministry, because I don’t have that time to recharge. I see the wisdom in this change and have begun to implement this with any new events I am scheduling.
One thing that has not changed is my understanding that none of this matters outside of my own personal relationship with God. It is the number one thing I focus on in my life. In the end, the speaking events and books do not matter if I fail in this one thing. My relationship with God is more important than all of that, because if that relationship is not right, then nothing else in my life will be right either. I preach that, and I try to live that truth as well.
So, it is good to be back, and we will see what God has planned!