The other day I did something dangerous. I started a project in our bedroom closet. In an effort to become more organized my wife Sandy and I thought it would be good to combine all our shoes onto one shoe rack. So I went searching for a shelf. I looked everywhere but couldn’t find one. All the pre-made shelf kits were either too large or didn’t have enough shelves. They simply didn’t sell anything that would work for my context.
I think missional ministry is very similar. The context that each of us find ourselves in is unique. There is no missional kit for sale at Wal-Mart that we can purchase, follow some simple instructions (printed in five different languages) and then viol’a, missional ministry is fully constructed.
So after my fruitless shopping trip I decided to build it myself. The trouble is I’m not much of a handy-man. Still, I didn’t have too many other choices, and it’s not like I don’t have a few tools in my belt. I do own a saw and so I thought I could do it. After three days, five splinters and one argument with my wife, the shelf is now finished. Oh, and did I mention that I made a bunch of mistakes? I bought the wrong sized wood, I cut the new wood to the wrong length, I put a big hole in our dry wall which now must be patched, I got paint on the carpet, and then when I thought I was almost done I realized that the shelves were too close together and the shoes could not fit on them. To fix that last mistake took me four hours.
In the end though two things happened. First, the shelf is in my closet holding shoes and more importantly I learned a ton and became a better builder, not from my success but from my mistakes. Inventor Roger Von Oech says there are benefits from failure: first, if you do fail, you learn what doesn’t work; and second, the failure gives you the opportunity to try a new approach.
Missional ministry is hard, they don’t sell a kit, each context is different and ultimately you will have to build it yourself. Along the way you will make bunches of mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable, so instead of fearing them, embrace them, learn from them, and allow the Holy Spirit to teach you and guide you through the process. Do not allow fear of failure to prevent you from following the dream Jesus has put in your heart.
Michael Hyatt posted this on his blog: “While there are many things that can contribute to success, there is one thing that is sure to prevent it every single time. What is it? The absence of trying.” In order for us to build missional minded student ministries, we must be willing to try and be willing to fail and then be willing to try again. Every failure is an opportunity to discover more about ourselves, gain a greater dependence on the Holy Spirit and learn a better way to build missional ministries. So celebrate your failures and view them as stepping stones to where Jesus is leading you.
I would love to hear of your missional failures. We can always learn from each others mistakes. I welcome you to share both funny and painful ones. Leave a comment below.