Ministry Moves: How to Navigate New Spaces

Every box is unpacked, everything has a place. Some things are hung on the walls while other wall spaces are still being thought out. I have the path that I walk the dog and have identified my favorite route to drive through town to get to my daughter’s school. Just the other day I unlocked and opened the front door, walked in, and my heart relaxed while a simple smile took over my face.

Our new church, our new town, our new space. All three are home.

Deep Roots

One thing I set out to do in every house we live in is find what I call my Jesus Lookout. It is a place I can stand and see the majority of the open space when I look from left to right. I go to this place daily and still my inner thoughts and gaze across the space while I thank Jesus for all that He has provided. I ask the Holy Spirit to fill every crevice, every nook and cranny, with His peace. It is also the part of my day when I ask Him to make clear what our ministry is in this very spot.

Who do I need to talk to today, who can I encourage, who can I be there to just listen to? I ask Him to make clear both the bigger ministry calls and also the daily ministry actions I can respond to. I have found my Jesus Lookout in this new space, and I anticipate the deep roots that will grow here in our home, in our community, and in our church as I embrace this new location.

I feel a very real sense of homecoming with this move. We spent the first nine years of our marriage in this same town, albeit up on the north end. I feel a sense of rest because I know where I am, and I thank God for this opportunity. The six years that have passed between when we left and today have been quite the ride. I would not undo any of it because the highlight reel is too good; even the darkness of the valleys have been like a harsh winter that do eventually melt and give way to new growth. We have become advocates for how faithful God is at all times, even when nothing makes sense.

My feeling about change is that you can embrace it or resist it. In the spirit of wanting things to go well, I like giving change a giant hug, inviting it into the living room, and mapping out a plan. In our living room, with journals and prayer, we ask change to take a seat on the sofa, ask Jesus to grab a chair, and we put pencil to paper to write a plan. A motto in our family is Make a Plan, Work the Plan. The characteristics that change presents range from disappointment to exhilaration, from loss to gain. The talking out of change, the talking out of how it makes us feel, and then the getting down to how we will move with it and through it—those have been some of the most life-giving conversations our family has had.

My feeling about change is that you can embrace it or resist it.

The plan always requires a first step, and the first step is the action, the purposeful movement of response. A thoughtful, from-the-heartstrings, wisdom-led response. A breath prayer, where we whisper aloud, “Jesus be near” and then move boldly.

Point Them Back to Jesus

One way we like to move boldly is to serve. Make the time to give time away.

As soon as we were called to our new church, the moment my husband came home and said, “Jesus is calling me to be a part of this team, and I am so excited,” I knew his heart was home and I wanted all of our hearts to be at home. I showed up on our first Sunday morning and asked Jesus to give me eyes to see this new church family, beauty and warts, and to reveal to me where I fit. I began to look for who I could encourage, what people in the church needed love and hope. This is my gift from Jesus, encouragement, and I was bubbling over to give it away. To look people in the eyes and say, “Jesus sees you, and so do I.”

I met with one of the pastors and asked to serve in a way that would be helpful. Where did he see gaps that I could fill? I shared vaguely about my past ministry experiences and my current heart desires. I told him I was a little tired in this season of transition, but I would love to sit with people and listen and point them back to Jesus. He immediately invited me to participate in the Minister of the Day team. And I immediately laughed, which was not an appropriate response but in context it was hilarious.

The MOD team means I will volunteer for a day to respond to anyone who calls the church or comes into the church with a need for prayer, money, food, or resources. It is mostly listening, encouraging, praying, and sharing community opportunities for their needs. At the same time, volunteering in this way also supports the pastoral staff. Eight years ago I was on a church staff and led the MOD team, so the full circle moment to get to serve in this way was a comical dose of redemption from Jesus.

I asked Jesus to give me eyes to see this new church family and to reveal to me where I fit.

The pastor could not have even known that detail was a part of my story, but the Holy Spirit did; as He always does, God made a way. Like I shared before, sometimes He is really clear to say, “This is the way, walk in it.” Now, having been in the ministry for six months, I can see how beautifully Jesus has answered my prayers to see the love and the warts, to sit with those who need to feel heard and point them back to Jesus, to be available to pray with those who need a quiet space, and to encourage those who need to hear that they can do hard things and lovely things and are equipped to do them well.

Serving is about giving your gifts to others, but the gift received by being used by God is tenfold. If you ever find yourself a little bit tired, like your soul is a little bit weary, I encourage you to serve. It is counterintuitive, yes, but just try one time to serve as the salve to your soul. Jesus will meet you there. And so will those who become your friends.

My Church

You know where else Jesus met me in this new season? The back hall of our new church on a Sunday morning, five minutes into the service for which I was late. Whoops.

My daughter and I screeched into the parking lot, I texted my husband that I was indeed coming, and rush-walked toward the building. Just inside the double doors, my daughter turned to me and said, “I’ll see you after. I’m going to my church. Thanks for bringing us here this morning. I’m so excited.” She kissed me on the cheek and was gone up the hallway in a flash.

I just stood there. A marked moment of answered prayer. Her heart had just named this church as her own. Not her dad’s church or her dad’s job, not where her mom serves or her mom prays for people. Not a nervous moment where she decided to come with me to the adult service because sitting alone in the youth service was too overwhelming. My shoulders dropped an inch and my tears welled. Thank You, Jesus, for making a space for her here. Thank You for capturing her heart in this place. Thank You for being so gentle with her and for being real for her.

Having a pastor’s kid (PK) is a real thing. I pray about when to push, when to protect, when to let her go, when to keep her near. I err on never pushing, never forcing, letting the church unfold in front of her as her own sanctuary—yet also never saying the church is the only sanctuary. I pay close attention to her not getting lost in the “work of the church” but rather continue to present to her the “vessel of the church.” Our prayers were daily that our daughter would adopt this new home church as her own. She has just arrived home from camp with the church, and she had the best time, made friendship connections that could potentially last a lifetime, and she is part of a new tribe. Another answered prayer. (More like 5,000 prayers.)

Beyond What We Imagine

Change is not easy for everyone. As you face it in your own circumstances, self-identify if you like change or resist change and then talk to Jesus about it. He tells us to pray without ceasing, so talk to Him all day about everything. He will walk with you in it. Moving can be a great adventure and a bit isolating. New ministries are exciting while also an experience into the unknown. But with Jesus we are known. We are loved. We are equipped.

I am so grateful for our call to this church, to the people we get to do life with. I am blessed we get to be a part of Jesus’ plan to display His hope for the world. Ephesians 3:20-21 is a verse that comes off the pages of the Bible and is a melody in my heart: “Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us; glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus for all generations, forever and always. Amen.”

Amen, indeed.


This is part 3 of Christe's 3-post series. Find her other thoughts on Ministry Moves here and here.


 

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