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.

How Do Fringe ministries handle rejection? How do we continue to act Christ-like?

  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 ministry. 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 allotted my “placate Kathleen” moments when people give me a platform but have predetermined they don’t want the message. It’s hurtful. Painful. The truth is, those people, organizations, and churches 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, exhausting 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 ministry, could you share one word that describes it? We’d love to hear from you!

Are you leading a fringe ministry?

Have you ever felt as if the ministry God gave you isn’t part of the popular group?

Does your ministry feel like a wallflower at the church square dance?

Is everyone else lining up to join the popular ministries?

Do people run when they see you coming with your flyers and sign-up sheet?

Does your ministry feel like a wallflower at the church square dance_

You may be part of a a fringe ministry. What’s a fringe ministry?

A fringe is defined as:

an outer edge; margin; periphery:

something regarded as peripheral, marginal, secondary, or extreme in relation to something else:

A fringe ministry is extreme in relation to the rest of the church. A fringe ministry is on the outer edge, often considered secondary. Participating in a fringe ministry requires one to be extremely uncomfortable. You must do hard things. Feel frustration at not being heard. You get the back seat of the bus so to speak. Riding in the back of the bus means it’s cold and you get car sick from all the twists and turns. But God is in control. You must have total trust in God to participate in the fringe ministries.

Adoption/foster care is one of the fringe ministries. I know. It’s one God placed in my lap and in my heart. Often people turn the other way when they see me.

“Oh no, here comes Kathleen, she’s going to ask us to foster children, AGAIN.”

“She’s going to ask us to come to the “Thinking about Adoption seminar.”

If you are a fringe ministry, I am sure you have a similar set of stories.

Fringe ministries are ones that ask for a lifetime commitment of selflessness.

You can’t fake an adoption for Sunday morning service. You have to be committed for the rest of the week to raising a child who may not love you back.

Many fringe ministries look great on paper. Running a food pantry. Visiting the sick. Fixing a roof for someone who can’t afford it. Serving the homeless at a mission. They sound amazing. People “ooo and ahh” over them. That’s wonderful. But you know if God has called you to a fringe ministry, they are full of sweat equity and hanging onto the promises of God for provision for dear life.

A fringe ministry is counting loaves of bread at the day old store and sorting out the moldy ones so you have something to give out in the food pantry.

A fringe ministry sitting calmly with a kid from hard places who has punched a hole in the wall because he can’t regulate.

A fringe ministry is circling verses about provision and praying them when there is no money to keep the building running.

A fringe ministry is begging, knocking on doors, cajoling, begging again that people will listen to the message that God is given you that they need to hear but don’t want to.

Often people don’t want to hear what the fringe ministry is all about because they will have their hearts pricked and they would rather be comfortable.

So… what do you do when your God-sized dream is a fringe ministry? I’ll get into five tips tomorrow. 

Hey friend, if you feel as if you are in a fringe ministry, could you tell us about it in the comments? If you’re short on time, just name your ministry in three words or less. We’d love to hear from you.