I look back into the past two years of my journey in the TiM program which started at Aldersgate UMC, Wichita, KS, [hereinafter Aldersgate] and what comes to mind is the word “PROCESS”. As Wesleyans, we have a healthy and robust perspective on how God enables us to develop and live a God-shaped life. We call this life long process of being conformed to the image of Christ Sanctification. My strong conviction serves me: this process is not limited to just the transformation of character and tendencies but also includes the nurturing, and fine-tuning of the divine gifts and graces in our lives, so that we are able to honor the triune God, and serve the ministry of Christ, to the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit. To this end, I deem it a worthy saying: the TiM program, so far, has done a yeoman's job, in becoming a conduit of the sanctifying grace in my life and calling.
I started my journey in the TiM program at Aldersgate, a larger church in suburban Wichita, after serving in a small church in rural Nebraska. This change in the ministry context presented me with the opportunity as well as the challenge to grow in my pastoral ministry and gifts. It is in this situation, that the TiM program became a huge blessing. The TiM committee formed at Aldersgate helped me get grounded. The committee served as a community of connection at the onset. I barely knew anybody at Aldersgate, yet there was a committee committed to my fruitfulness and wellbeing as a person and a pastor. This group helped me grow my awareness of the culture at Aldersgate, which was crucial for ministry. They helped me unlearn somethings in order to learn to minister to the congregation in receivable ways. I also felt familiar and grounded within the larger corpus of the Great Plains conference as I participated in the TiM retreats where we interacted with leaders from the conference. I realized a grounding in my sense of belongingness at the local, district and conference levels.
GROWTH IN GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE:
The TiM program has been an immense avenue for the acquisition of life-giving knowledge to grow in my pastoral ministry. Through the TiM retreats, I have been exposed to concepts and ideas that make ministry significant and relevant. The knowledge gained has strengthened my theological moorings, empowered and equipped me from the inside-out; therefore, I am able to minister from a place of courage and confidence. The growth in knowledge has also resulted from the many resources made available to me through the TiM program. To cite an example, the Kansas Leadership Center has been of tremendous help. I have appreciated the ability to discern challenges as being either adaptive or technical and develop the right and relevant leadership approaches in solving them. Most importantly, I have appreciated how the knowledge gained is helping me grow in my relationship with Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. The call to “attend to the work of Christ in you” has been a clarion reminder that works of ministry should be an outgrowth of one’s relationship with Christ. Thus, helping me to keep a healthy balance my being versus my doing.
FINE-TUNING OF MINISTRY EMPHASIS AND GIFTS
It is very easy to be a jack of all trade and be a master of none. This saying applies to ministry as well. With my entrance into the TiM program, I recognized the opportunity to fine-tune my gifts and ministry emphasis. I perceived my strength and giftedness in the ministry of the word through preaching and teaching in different ministry settings, such as corporate worship or small groups. My interaction with the TiM committee enabled me to identify the need for discipleship at Aldersgate. Seeing this as a need that my gifts and ministry emphasis of discipleship could address, I seized the opportunity to start discipleship groups. I also took advantage of the TiM educational grant to attend the Exponential Conference, 2018, where I gained insights into developing discipleship systems in local churches. I have also appreciated how through the TiM program, I have been able to hone God’s message of Hope and Healing in me. I feel confident in my call to the ministry of the word and discipleship.
GROWTH IN RELATIONSHIP BANDWIDTH:
One of the unique characteristics of the polity of our denomination is the sense of connection. We are connected at different levels in mission and ministry, and the TiM program is not an exception. The program has opened doors for me to build relationships with TiM pastors, mentors and other ministers in the conference. This has come along with many benefits including, but not limited to: sharing ideas on theology and leadership, sharing accountability, the provision of a safe and healthy space to share concerns, challenges, as well as celebrations.
Conclusively, I agree with the apostle Paul, when he said, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season”. To this end, I look forward to growing and being prepared for both celebratory and challenging moments in ministry and in life, as I enter into the next phase of the TiM program; recognizing that the work of grace is not done in me yet.