min⋅is⋅try [min-uh-stree] –noun, plural -tries.; def: an act or instance of ministering; ministration; service.
This topic has been on my mind quite a bit lately so I thought I'd share with you all & entertain your thoughts on the subject. I think that a lot of times we put this word into such a formal, organized and very methodical context when in reality, it doesn't have to be formal at all. Yes, pastors and church staff are on church payroll and their whole job role is centered around a particular service to individuals or to an entire church but we (you and I) can be "ministers" at our jobs, in our families, in our communities, etc. The possibilities are endless.
This really came into light for me last night at my women's bible study. I love these ladies dearly and have already made a few friends in just 3 weeks of going there. However, as I look around the room, I see that I am one of the youngest people there! That may be intimidating for some people - I know it kind of was for me at first because I'm thinking "What could these women POSSIBLY learn from me? They are more mature and wiser.. blah blah.. etc." One of our activities last night was to have a scavenger hunt among ourselves with this pre-printed list of likes, dislikes, activities.. whatever. We had to go around the room and find people who could sign next to each thing helping us find out a little more about them. Well, one item on the list said "enjoys Facebook" and let me tell you that once one person found out that I enjoy it.. they all wanted me to sign next to that and started asking me a TON of questions! Opening up avenues of things to talk about other than kids, husbands or whatever they have that I don't have - it really helped me find a common ground with these women that I can take with me further in the next few weeks to start strengthening the bonds of our friendships.
I guess the point of my story is this: I feel like a lot of older individuals tend to look at technology and social networking, etc. as something that is taking our society further and further down the path of destruction by opening our minds to all sorts of things that we never even had to think about or worry about before. While this may be partly true, I feel that social networking (Facebook/MySpace) can be very effective ministry tools if they are used the right way. What do I mean by "ministry tools"? Things that you can take advantage of to assist you in serving another person or a group of people. I have joked for a while about my "Facebook Ministry". I use this site as more than just a place to connect with people or play games or what have you. There are opportunities to help people and make huge impacts in this world through using the connections that Facebook provides.
A couple of personal examples that I have to close this out: First of all, a lot of you know that I was not a Christian as a teenager or even in college. I have reconnected with so many people who knew me in my past though and their first question is usually "When did you become religious/spiritual/Christian?" I feel like this opens up a huge door for me to share my story with them on where I was, where I've been, and what it all means to me now (if they will hear.. some are not open to it..) Secondly, I have a way to stay updated on people's lives and circumstances so that I know how to pray for them and I am able to "take prayer requests" sometimes too which helps ME know what to pray for but also can show others that might be reading my wall or status, what they can pray for also. Prayer changes lives.. that one is HUGE to me.
Anyhow, I just thought I'd share a little of what is going on in my world right now. I encourage you to pray & seek God's face in realizing where He might be asking you to step out and serve him - even if it is just smiling at that neighbor that you walk past every morning (another friend of mine was EXTREMELY blessed by just being able to do something that simple a while back).
Until next time (which hopefully won't be 2 months from now!)