This week, as the kids head back to school here in Budapest and the weather finally starts to dip below 90 degrees, I admittedly breathe a small sigh of relief. It feels good to slip back into the predictable rhythm of school runs and regular weekly schedules. The chaos that comes with a summer full of camp is now behind us and we look forward to the change in seasons. Our routine isn’t the only shift we observe. The city itself has an ebb and flow of change that brings unusual familiarity. As the temperatures slowly fade, so do the tourists. Gradually, the cafes that pour out into the sidewalk during summer months shrink back into cozy indoor spaces.
Ministry, too, has a rhythm to it. There are seasons of planning and meetings, holiday outreach events, and afterschool programs. For the last few years, our predictable rhythm was one of restructuring and redirecting. We redefined our team’s vision and refocused our energy, developing partnerships in the local church. We reorganized the English camp program and strengthened the planning process. This was all good and our little team took up the important roles required to bring it all together. Soon, our predictable mantra was “busy,” as we maxed out the capacity of our schedule and energies, recognizing that in order to move forward, we would need to grow.
While it’s easy for us to fall into the routine of ministry, and even more specifically, the routine of our roles, the danger is that we become comfortable in the “usual” and forget to recognize when God is preparing us to do a new thing!
This fall, our team will embrace many “new things.” On one hand it is very exciting, but it can also be a bit scary for those (like me!) who prefer the comfortability of being predictable. Our team continues to grow in number and ability. Just this week, we will welcome a new couple to our team, planning to work in discipleship and youth ministries. We wait anxiously for our other funding teammates to join us in the coming months, to work in areas of planning, discipleship, media and communications, English ministries, and social entrepreneurship. For those of us already here, that means stepping out of our usual routine and embracing the new additions. Sometimes it means relinquishing a role or responsibility that has been ours for many months, not because it is our interest or gifting, but because there was no one else here to do it. And that can be hard.
But God is doing something in Hungary. We are privileged to work alongside an amazing group of people that God has invited into ministry. I don’t want to find myself stuck in my own mindset of calendars and to-do lists, struggling for comfort and consistency. I want to embrace the changes and the growth, but we truly cannot grow and change while we are busy being comfortable!
Growth and change aren’t just unique to me, though, or even to missions. As believers, we are all hopefully walking a journey that invites us out of our comfort zones. The Bible is full of stories about people who were stretched beyond their current comfortabilities and asked to embrace a new role, a new responsibility, and a new level of faith. David was comfortable tending sheep, Noah had never built a boat, and the disciples were probably well acquainted with the rhythms of a fisherman’s life, but they all embraced the divine interruption and put their trust in the Master Planner.
That’s what I’m asked to do and what we ask our team to do each and every day. We don’t have to resist the rhythm or even the routine, but we do have to trust that God’s changes to them are the better way.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
– Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)