A Signature Ministry

By Pastor Jonathan and Rev. Neilson Kibbey

[Identifying a signature ministry] is that core element that will make the congregation shed a tear, reach deep in their pockets or fight for it if it were taken away.  When we discover that one thing that makes us come together in ministry we have found our unique one excellent mission–when we find our misery, we find our ministry.”

Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”  Matthew 28:19

We are continuing to examine some of the habits of an effective church and the writings of my friend Rev. Sue Neilson Kibbey.  I truly believe this is one of the key action steps of a congregation to process in auditing ministry.  In many of the churches I have served there are tons of service projects, dinners and traditional fundraisers that seem to be a mile wide but an inch thick and not really focused on making disciples of Jesus Christ.  This article talks about a signature ministry.  This summer I would like every member to read this article, then give feedback on what we should do or no do.  I always said, “if we say yes to something, we need to then say no to something we are currently doing.”  All I ask you to do is pray first, then be ready to offer to our leadership feedback.  Ponder the message in this article about how we should move forward in mission together in the future at Mt. Healthy UMC.  This future might just include an incredible “signature ministry,” to lead and guide our mission for Jesus Christ!

Habit #3: Embrace a “Signature Ministry.”

By Rev. Sue Nielson Kibbey

“The legacy of John Wesley is known for emphasis upon the crucial faith-filled importance of Matthew 25:  serving the needs of others in Christ’s name.  The history of Methodism has been hallmarked by acts of tangible Christian mercy that bring resources, healing and hope to the brokenness of its world.  Wesley’s intent was that such practical outplays of service in the name of Christ would also connect recipients with the eternal hope-filled message of Christ as its source.

Many congregations seek to demonstrate this priority by collecting special offerings to fund missionaries or projects that address community, national or global needs.  Some churches encourage every committee, ministry or group within to choose and then either serve or contribute to its own specialized mission focus.  It’s possible for a single congregation to be thus engaged in a dozen—or even dozens—of different service projects and small financial contributions that all contribute to addressing the needs of God’s people.

But what happens when there’s also (or instead) a churchwide shift of focus to embrace one “signature ministry” around which every age group, class, committee and team rallies in order to unite energies?  What can unfold when one excellent mission—a missional focus that becomes the heartbeat and DNA of an entire church—centralizes the time and investment of an entire congregation in order to multiply the impact for God’s good?

The third habit of a Missional Church is the active emergence of just such a focus. When a congregation begins to prayerfully discern whether centralizing time, energy and concentration to a signature ministry is its next step, a few clarifying questions can surface:

Will this help us fulfill our biblical call to meet the needs of our community or world—materially, relationally and spiritually?

Are we willing to move this to a collective financial priority of our church as the heartbeat of our focus on mission?

Is it a mission or ministry that involves just a few, while the rest of our membership is simply appreciative of their hard work—or is it an effort in which an increasing number of our members are becoming personally involved and around which there is a passion.

The Missional Church habit of an all-church signature ministry doesn’t require a congregation to ignore every other important cause it’s previously supported. Rather, through prayer and exploration it moves a primary collective motivation of its membership into a central priority so that that all ages have an opportunity to invest with time, resources and energy with influence for Christ’s work and witness.”

What are your thoughts?  What is God’s passion for our community and mission?   Are we willing to give our time, money and service to this ministry?

Let me know your thoughts.

God’s Blessings!

Pastor Jonathan