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If you died today, what would your ministry be remembered for?

Ministry R.I.P.It’s easy to be short-sighted in ministry. We work so hard on the day-to-day tasks that we often lose sight of the bigger picture. We go from program to program, event to event, series to series, and at the end of each one we’re often so close to the ministry, staring at it from 5 inches away, that we unintentionally lose the bird’s eye view. How do we even know if we’re moving in the right direction when we spend the entire journey staring at our feet because they’re in better focus than the distant horizon?

This exercise is a bit morbid, but very insightful for bringing the horizon back in focus for your ministry. You’ll need half an hour or so to do it properly.

1. Write an obituary for your ministry 10 years in the future

Project the ministry forward 10 years. Imagine that the Lord takes you home with Him having accomplished the vision He placed on your heart. Write a short obituary about your ministry as you’d like other people to have experienced it.

Keep in mind that your ministry has been as “successful” as it can be and the Lord calls you home at the peak of its game.

  • What do you want people to say about the ministry?
  • How do you hope it will be perceived?
  • What will people respect about it the most?
  • What new ground has it broken for the Kingdom?
  • How has it partnered with the Holy Spirit for life-change in people’s lives?

Take some time to write this obituary and dare to dream big.

2. Write an obituary for your ministry as it stands today

Okay, back to the present. Let’s just say that your life on earth ended today. Perhaps you were killed in a car accident, maybe silently in your sleep, or maybe you choked playing Chubby Bunny at youth group – it really doesn’t matter – the exercise remains the same.

Write an obituary for your ministry as you see it now.

  • What do others say about it?
  • Will it continue without you?
  • What difference is it making in people’s lives?
  • Is it breaking new ground for the Kingdom?
  • Is it a reflection of what a healthy ministry should look like?

The key to it is to look at the two obituaries and compare them. Reflect on the differences.

Once you’ve compared your two obituaries, the next step is to spend a considerable amount of time in prayer, asking the Lord to enable you to move from the present reality to the big dream for the future. These sorts of dreams don’t just happen because you spend more time in the office, invest more money, or try harder. Rather, they are the result of spending time with the Lord, allowing Him to continually work through you, and often taking faith risks that may feel very uncomfortable.

If you’d like to share your obituaries (or at least what you discovered in writing them) in comments below I’d be interested to read what the Lord lays on your heart.


Posted on February 24, 2009

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  • I saw this information originally at ProBlogger on Feb. 17th.

  • @Brandon Collins: Yeah, I borrowed the idea and applied it to ministry.

  • Eric

    Great article. Along the same lines, I have posed this question to our church, “If our church closed it’s doors today, would the community miss it.”

  • Love this. I have been preaching this to my volunteers and leadership everywhere I have been. I have looked at in the vein of if I make it about how great I can make it, it will die the minute I am gone. That is why training and delegating is so important so that the ministry is of the church and not the hype I can bring

  • Great way to pose the question Tim. I have heard the first of your two questions asked, but not necessarily in contrast with the second question. It is a great way to see where you want to be vs. where you are. As you pointed out, the third question then becomes: “What’s it going to take to get to where you desire your Youth Ministry to be?”

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