Five Helpful Tips for Running a Fringe Ministry

A fringe ministry is extreme in relation to the rest of the church. A fringe ministry is on the outer edge, often considered secondary.

*If you missed the first in the series, you can find it here.

If you are part of or run a fringe ministry, you may feel isolated, alone, frustrated and sidelined. People my run the other way when you ask for help. It’s hard. Let me just tell you friend, Jesus understands. He started a fringe ministry. He preached a message of UN-comfortability:

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross[expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].

Jesus spoke of denying ourselves, setting aside selfish interests and being willing to endure whatever may come. The religious rulers of the day preached adherence to rules, not acts of selfless love. When Jesus didn’t adhere to their way of thinking and doing, he was chased out of towns, questioned, whipped and finally crucified. YIKES.

So, how do we fringe minsitries handle rejection or being put on the back burner? How do we respond in Christ-like ways?

 

  1. Don’t take people’s reactions personally. When you offer a message that God has placed on your heart and your only return is blank stares, don’t take it personally. I delivered a whole message on adoption being part of God’s plan and one of my friends in the audience looked angry the whole time. I approached her afterwards and asked her if I had offended her (whoops, my insecurity slip was showing). She said, “No, that was my thinking face. I was thinking deeply about what you were saying.” Turns out, the message was new information for her and she was processing. This is just one example, there have been other instances when people have totally rejected the message. That’s okay too. When you are being obedient, that’s what counts. Ministry is not a popularity contest. Not everyone will jump up and down about your God-sized dream. Just remember, obedience is better than sacrifice. Don’t sacrifice the call on your life to be liked. Your ministry is not about you, it’s about helping others and heeding the voice of the Holy Spirit.
  2. What does Jesus say about your ministry? Look up verses that support what you are doing and circle them. Write them done. Post them everywhere for yourself, not others. Before my family adopted, God have me a set of scriptures to pray, circle and write down. They were the foundation of my home mission. Isaiah 61 was my framework, prayer and full-time job for my family, especially those kiddos from hard places. I had to believe I was anointed and commissioned to raise kiddos from hard places. I needed to remind myself of it often.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me
To bring good news to the humble and afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted,
To proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives
And freedom to prisoners,
 
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance and retribution of our God,
To comfort all who mourn,

3. Let God do the heart work. You can’t shove compassion down someone’s throat (believe me I have tried.) You can only deliver the message and show compassion to the person yourself. Some days I would love to round up the big “C” church and tell them all of the statistics on foster children and have them sign on the dotted line to adopt. It doesn’t work that way. I’ve found from personal experience that a message doesn’t produce the fruit of understanding the first, second or even third time I hear it. So, don’t lose heart. Keep kindly sharing and pray that God draws the heart of those He wants to participate in the minsitry. You certainly don’t want a bunch of foot-dragging disciples on the front lines of your ministry. You want people who have a revelation from God and a holy spark in their britches.

You certainly don't want a bunch of foot-dragging disciples on the front lines of your ministry.

4. If a person, church, organization or fill in the blank doesn’t receive the ministry God has placed you in: Shake the dust off your feet and walk away. This is a tough one. I know. I’ve bloodied my knuckles on the doors that don’t want to hear the message of adoption/foster care. I’ve been alotted my “placate Kathleen” moments when people give me a moment but have predetermined they don’t want the message. It’s hurtful. Painful. The truth is, those people, organizations and churhes are not rejecting me, they are rejecting the message. That’s on their conscience. Not mine. It’s best for me to shake the dust off my feet, that means the negative feedback, the denial of the message, the condescending looks and walk away. Don’t argue about theology and quote the Bible, just walk away. 

5. Find a group of friends who will cheer you on. This is super important. Jesus surrounded himself with twelve disciples, three of them were His inner circle. Find your inner circle. This inner circle must believe the God-sized dream you are serving out is meaningful, important and helpful to the kingdom. This doesn’t mean these friends do everything you do or serve in the ministry every second of every day. These friends are your prayer partners, your support, your encouragers and you do the same for them.

 

Being part of a fringe ministry is exciting, exhasting and exhilarating all at the same time! God doesn’t call the gals that have it all together (are there any of those?) He calls those who feel incompetent, have imposter syndrome complexes and yet have a huge heart for the kingdom of God. If you are part of a fringe minstry, could you share one word that describes it? We’d love to hear from you!

Stay in Your Lane to Fulfill Your God-sized Dream

Have you ever sat back at the end of a day, a month and year and felt unsatisfied or fulfilled with your life? It’s not that you don’t have blessings, or some good things coming your way, there is just something inside that says, I would really love to fill in the blank.

Maybe you have a God-sized dream and you don’t want to say it out loud because someone might hear you and hold you to it or worse, laugh at you. But your dream is there, deep inside just waiting to be birthed.

May I tell you a few things that help us live out the vision God has placed within us?

1. Define your dream.

Often we don’t live out our God-sized dream because we don’t define it.

We might say some vague things such as:

  • I would like to help people.
  • I enjoy being a servant.
  • I love encouraging other people.

Those are great things to do. We should all aspire to do those. What is it that you love to do that makes you lose yourself? You lose track of time. You are so energized and engaged that you have no idea that four hours have passed. For me, it’s writing, research and teaching.

Once you answer that question-

What is it that you love to do that makes you lose yourself? 

Then you can define your dream by writing it down into something measurable.

I’m going to encourage women through teaching a Bible study.

I’m going to serve by opening up a food pantry for the community.

I’m going to practice hospitality by hosting a monthly coffee in my home.

Now, take your statement and break it down into steps that you can walk through and check off your list. Don’t be intimidated by this part. We often skip this step because for some reason we just think they will magically happen for us because we want it to.

God can open doors for us, it’s true.  In order for God to open a door, you have to drive to the building, so to speak.

God may redirect you a few times during the defining phase. It’s okay. It’s all part of the process. Taking the step to define your dream/vision is one step closer to doing something. Do something, lest you do nothing. Stay in your lane.png

2. Stay in your lane.

I think many of us (myself included) would sometimes rather coast in someone else’s lane and watch their God-sized dream come to fruition. It’s fun to be the helper and cheer someone else on until you reach the top of the mountain peak and realize your mountain is on the other side of the valley. All of the accolades for your friend will not fulfill your purpose. I get it. It’s scary putting ourselves out there and saying, “I want to write the book, not be on the launch team for the 100th time.” It sounds selfish to say we have dreams (I’ll get to that in a minute).

I would never say don’t help your friends. That’s a great investment of your time. Just make sure you drive in your own lane more than your friends’, neighbors’ and everyone shouting at you to join their cause. There’s a reason.

God gives you sufficient energy to do what He has called YOU to do, not what every lady in your church is doing.

God is not responsible for the physical and emotional consequences when you drive out of your lane. You will never arrive at the destination of your God-sized dream if you are driving aimlessly.

I’m preaching to the Guire here. For years my life was ordered by what all the other church ladies and my friends were doing. We were doing great stuff, guys! Serving and encouraging. Blessing others. My problem? I used my energy envelope on that good stuff and then was too exhausted to do my real job well. For awhile that job was exclusively mothering, homeschooling and running a co-op. When my kids got a little older, God directed me to start writing. After doing all the other good stuff, I had nothing left. No energy to write. Nothing. And that was not God’s fault. Or the other ladies. Or the church’s. It was mine. All mine.

3. Your dream isn’t selfish. It’s not about you at all.

Read that one more time. Often we don’t pursue our God-sized dream because we think it is selfish. If your God-sized dream is to run away to a tropical island and sip fruity drinks all day, then maybe it is. The truth is, I have never met a woman who hasn’t had a big dream. It takes time for us to own up to this because we don’t want to seem as if we want to make a name for ourselves. That’s not what God-sized dreams are about. They are about taking something that you can’t possibly do on your own, and giving God the glory every step of the way.

Your God-sized dream is about other people. It’s about God’s plan being lived out on this earth because you are obedient.

Years ago I was taking an online memoir writing class. Things were going great. I felt as if my writing was getting better. The teacher seemed to think so. She wrote me some encouraging words. I was feeling pretty comfortable with her…so, I told her my God-sized dream of helping a million orphans and of a vision I had. She told me I seemed unhinged and not to put that in my memoir. (*Just a note- don’t tell everyone your God-sized dream, not everyone gets it). If my God-sized dream includes helping orphans, is it really about me? Nope. Just like your dream. It’s about the people on the receiving end.

I’m sure you have a God-sized dream. It may be staying home and raising kiddos (that was mine for a season and then they grew up). It may be hosting a Bible study, writing a book, serving at an outreach, or fill in the blank. Take some time today and write down your dream. Make some measurable objectives so you can start driving in the right direction. If you, like me, know what your dream is and you need to get back in your lane, start putting up some boundaries. Many times, saying “NO” is the best thing you can do. A “Yes” that is accompanied by frustration, whining, complaining and dragging your feet the whole way is not producing any good fruit. And remember, your God-sized dream is not about you.

  • Thanks to Amy Breitmann for the “stay in your lane” idea!

 

When Resolutions Fail

It’s only ten days into the new year and we planners, those of us who resolve to do all sorts of good things may already be feeling a bit off. I’m a planner. I make goals and lists and I am pretty good at following through. But, that’s not what I want to talk about. Resolution makers (like me) often get a false sense of reality, as if we can control the circumstances just because we wrote something in our planner or tacked a sticky note on the wall. We can’t.

I’m a firm believer in making plans. We can’t be a vague, thoughtless or foolish with our time. But, sometimes our plans don’t work out because of things out of our control. How we respond to things we can’t control matter. Honestly, my track record with reactions isn’t that great. I tend to respond with anxiety and questions. I doubt my call to do whatever it is. Guess what, that’s not a God honoring reaction. God said we would have trials and troubles. Resistance and calamity don’t negate your call. They solidify it. It’s your proof of purchase. It’s your reminder that someone doesn’t want you to complete the mission. That someone is not Jesus or your friend or husband. Jesus said to take heart ❤️, He has overcome the world!Every worthy endeavor has obstacles

Whether your resolution was to be a more organized Mom, workout four times a week or finish a manuscript for a book, there are going to be circumstances that come against you. Some of the circumstances may be God-driven and ordained, such as caring for a sick child or helping a friend or relative. In those instances, we play the people are more important than things card. When we see interruptions as a sign that we shouldn’t pursue fulfilling our resolutions, we’re reading the signs wrong.

Resistance is a sign that we are doing things right. When lifting weights or working out, we count on resistance to make us stronger. Without resistance, we’re just beating the air and not getting any results. The same is true with our resolutions, our God-sized dreams, our desire to make positive changes in our lives. We encounter resistance and it makes us stronger, if we let it, if we don’t just drop the ball and give up.

Instead of letting circumstances deter us, let them ensure us.  Let us see them as a sign that we are on the right path. Every worthy endeavor has obstacles. If your resolve is to be organized in your homeschooling and home and you end up taking your sister’s kids while one of her’s is in the hospital (true story), then don’t beat yourself up because your house is a wreck. Don’t say,  “I quit”. Say, “That was a God-opportunity to do the right thing.” Rest. Recover and start again.

The problem is when we make the resolutions the god and not a desired goal. We can’t control the universe. What we can do is persevere and continue to sow good seeds even when circumstances send a storm our way.

What circumstances have blown your way?

While you’re here, make sure you check out The Whole House Podcast,  Episode 2 is live- Human Trafficking Awareness Day. If you haven’t listened yet, start with our Introductions. Are you ready?

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Good Stewardship, It’s Not What You Think

“Our house is paid off!” I overheard a Mom say, gleefully. I was happy for her, really, I was. At the same time, I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt. Our house wasn’t/isn’t paid off. I wasn’t measuring up, once again. Hubby and I had taken financial classes at church and gotten all our our ducks in a row. We had no credit card debt. Then our ducks got shot down, one by one. Massacred is more like it.

I am a mother of seven and a Christian, both of which make me a cultural anomaly. Our family living is costly, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Let’s focus on the physical for a moment.

Seventeen years ago, husband Jerry and I internationally adopted a sibling group of four to add to our three bios. A family of nine is not cheap, no matter how you slice it. I had seven children watching me and my reactions to financial stress.

I often teetered on the tightrope of guilt and shame. At night, all of my decisions lined up in a row to harass me. What had we done wrong? Why weren’t we on track? For years, these thoughts haunted me. Finally, Jesus reminded me through His word, financial security is not the measuring stick used to get you into heaven. It’s great if you have it. If you are financially secure and use your money to bless others and invest in the kingdom, go YOU! If you aren’t, you’re storing up treasures you can’t take with you. Stewardship may not be what you think it is.

We invested in our children by attaching (time), feeding, clothing and housing (money) and spiritually (time and prayer). We could have skipped adopting in order to be more financially stable or waited until we had all of our financial ducks in a row, which probably would have been the day after never.

Some would say the Guires haven’t been good stewards of our money. As I said, our home is not paid off. We have paid off cars, only to start all over again. We’ve lost businesses. Started over multiple times. Barely scraped by. Applied principles of major financial gurus and still hit rock bottom financially.

This isn’t an article about being destitute. It’s about stewardship. As, I said, some may say that we are terrible stewards, but it is just not true. We are good stewards, just not in the loads of money in the bank sort of way. When we see a need, we feel compelled to meet that need and be the hands of Christ. Being a good steward means adopting orphans, feeding the hungry, healing the broken hearted. When we walk in the mindset of Christ, the bank account reflects it.

Jesus had no place to call home during the time of His three years of earthly ministry. He walked dusty roads and was more concerned about the needs of humans than He was His own physical comfort. He wasn’t rich and didn’t preach the American cultural idea of being financially secure, buying stocks and bonds or preparing for retirement. Jesus said to store up your treasure in heaven. Where your heart is, there is your treasure. What is your treasure?

With that said, God doesn’t believe in scarcity, He believes in abundance.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]. John 10:10

Abundance doesn’t always mean money. Let’s not take the gospel and twist it into what it’s not. The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. That’s abundance. An overflowing well of joy and peace in knowing you are in right standing with God. In His will. Serving His purpose. Sometimes doing His will drains your bank account.

If anyone fails to provide for his own, and especially for those of his own family, he has denied the faith [by disregarding its precepts] and is worse than an unbeliever [who fulfills his obligation in these matters]. I Timothy 5:8

If we do not meet the needs of our own family, we are worse than a heathen. If your brother asks for a shirt, give it to him and your coat. If he asks you to walk a mile, go two. Jesus doesn’t ask us to give until it hurts, He asks us to give until it heals. Meeting someone’s physical needs often opens the door to meet spiritual ones. I’m not saying the Gospel can be bought and paid for with money.  I’m pointing out that service requires sacrifice. Sometimes (not always) that service involves draining your bank account.

Adopting children costs money. Feeding, clothing and housing them is a worthy investment of capital. They are worth the investment. Money is a means to ministry. If making money and financial security is your primary focus, then you are serving mammon.

For example, hospitality costs money, but it’s an investment into the lives of people who come into your home. Our homes are ministry tools. A giant welcome mat that says, “You Matter! You ARE LOVED!” We are being good stewards of our home if we use to bless others. If we use our homes as tools to reach out and wrap the arms of Jesus around someone, we are being good stewards.

If we our homes as tools to reach out and wrap the arms of Jesus around someone, we are being good stewards. (2)

 

Most of the sold out for Jesus, living on the fringe culturally, are not the ones with full bank accounts. They have full faith accounts, instead. They have to. While I do believe we should live disciplined lives and have great work ethic, there is not always a financial reward for these in kingdom living. Sometimes, God calls us to do something valuable and worthwhile for free. God calls us to serve, open our homes, make a donation of our time and talents (which He gave us) to build His kingdom. When He asks this of us, we must trust that He will supply the means to do so.

If you are reading this and you don’t have your house paid off, money is in short supply and you’re living your heart out for Jesus, don’t despair. Don’t compare yourself to someone who has all their finances in order. God will supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory. I’m not advocating running up debts. God doesn’t always supply our wants, He does supply needs. Being a good steward means using your money, time and talents to fulfill His purpose. Whatever purpose He gives you: homeschooling, adoption, running a food pantry, starting a Bible study, writing, teaching, making baby quilts, feeding college students, ______________(fill in the blank).

I have watched many Jesus followers go through a Job syndrome after they stepped out into ministry. Often these people are judged. Ministry is gritty, tough and expensive work. It requires all the stewardship you can muster. It is good, soul-satisfying work. The rewards are not of this world. Being a good steward may not mean what you think it does. Being a good steward means using everything you have for kingdom work and trusting that God will supply the means.

Apple Picking at the Guire Shire

 

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Yesterday was a perfect day for apple picking. I’ve been a bit under the weather since my vacation trip to SC, too much doing and not enough being. I struggle with this. I want to get ‘er all done, only half the time, I spread my efforts so thin that I don’t accomplish much of anything. Or worse, I fail to be obedient to the call of God on my life that I live in a desert of a dry soul. Then I wake up one morning with a fever and achy joints and ask God, “What am I doing wrong?” Do you hear me dear one? Do you struggle with this too?

Apple picking day was a day of harvest in more ways than one. Those grandkids are a harvest, a joyful bunch. A tangible amazing gift from the Lord. Time with family is a blessing, not something to be fit into the margins of my life. Something high on the priority list. You can’t have family relationships without an investment of time. See how Cecilia lets go of the ladder and reaches up for the apple? That is trust. Trust isn’t free. It costs. The pay out for trust that real is time. Not just time, but connected time. Reading together, talking together, eating together, all the things that God desires to do with us. He desires to spend time with us and in turn we spend time with family, building relationships.

Lyndon coffee Shop

Aren’t you glad that God’s arms are long? He can reach you wherever you are. I don’t know about you, but I often believe the lie that God doesn’t hear me or that I am out of His reach. Not true. He is here, waiting, longing for you and me to reach out for Him. He hears our prayers. He knows what we need before we even ask, but He wants us to ask. He longs for us to wait on Him. To converse with Him. Talk to Him today. He hears you.

I spent some time yesterday asking a close friend and family members about my life. My God-sized dream. I had to send out some texts saying, ” I can’t do __________.” My desire is to do everything and help everyone. I can’t. When I try, not only is it disobedience to the call on my life, it produces shriveled rotten fruit. Poor health. Cranky attitudes. Frustration that I can’t do what I know I need to do.I rush out of the stall like a leaping calf and then I hit the wall. How about you?

I spent the evening going through an old journal that I wrote at the beginning of the year full of goals and scriptures. The Lord renewed my mind in the way He designed me, the God-sized dream he gave me. How about you? Are you on the fringe of your true God-sized dream because you are afraid? Afraid of disappearing because you aren’t doing what everyone else is? Before you get on someone else’s bandwagon, consider the harvest you want to have. You can’t get apples from an orange tree. You can’t grow fruit if you don’t plant a seed and then cultivate it.

A few questions that I had to ask myself:

  • Is this activity in line with God’s will for my life? (Not, is it a good thing?)
  • Am I making my God-sized dream a priority or is it on the back burner?
  • What am I spending the bulk of my time and energy on? (Hint- it should be your God-sized dream).

When I homeschooled for twenty-one years, it was my God-sized dream for a season, I didn’t have to think about what I was going to spend the bulk of my time on. Now that I am moving into a new season, I’m stumble like a toddler. I get it. I’m there. Together, let’s wait on the Lord, believe He hears your prayer. Write down your God-sized dream, along with some Holy Spirit inspired measurable goals.

From my journal and for you:

I have chosen you, actually picked you out before the foundation of the world. I gave you a purpose. The forces against you are not flesh and blood, but principalities, powers, mights and dominions. They are just using people. Don’t be pushed around or dissuaded from pursuing your purpose. Remember the battle plan.