Problem-solving when ministries hit hard times

Written by Shawn Naylor

Right now, it seems the very foundations we’ve built for our lives have been shaken. Before, we could move through life in a clockwork rhythm. It didn’t leave much space for desperate creativity.

But that’s what we find ourselves right now. As a nation, we’re desperate to be with one another. At our cores we’re social beings, created to be in relationships. We’re desperate to get back to a recognizable way of life, but the route to that destination isn’t yet clear. And that is stressful.

So now, as facets of our youth ministries have become stagnant, and it seems as though everything has been removed, we must build creatively from the ground up.

Unique times call for unique approaches. 

Writer Robert E. Franken says, “Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining.” If we’re forced to be creative, this often means the solution isn’t readily available, or at times even palatable.

These situations aren’t new in human history. I think back to a special moment in the Bible found in the Book of Esther.

Esther was given the responsibility of saving her people because the king of Persia chose her as his queen. An enemy was trying to eradicate her people, the Jews. Her uncle told her she had to do something because God has placed her in a situation close to the most powerful man in the land. 

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).

These words clearly struck a chord in Esther’s being. But her options weren’t clear, nor were they palatable. She risked death by going unsummoned before the king.

Further, could you imagine making supper for the man who was trying to kill your people? Yet she took her time, preparing two feasts for the king and Haman, the enemy of the Jews.

Finally, she told her husband what Haman was planning. She knew that to succeed, the key ingredient was creativity and a heart of patience. Her actions saved her people.

Maybe you too are in a situation where the answer isn’t readily available and/or palatable. My question to you is, What are you doing right now in this unique situation?

Here are a couple of questions I ask myself in times of unknowing when the waters of leadership murky.

  1. Am I pursuing obscurity with Christ or popularity with people?
  2. When all is said and done, will people say that it was Christ working through me?
  3. Is this what I want or is it what Christ wants?

When I wrestle with these questions and give honest answers to them, I can adjust perspective and approach. Going to God in earnest prayer and listening to His direction can result in a transcendent impact in that particular situation.

He redeems even our desperate, uncertain creativity.

As Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”