Yesterday, Ron Edmondson posted a note that he would offer 30 minutes of free ministry coaching to the first two takers who responded through his website. Somehow, in God’s plan, I was the first person to nibble. Ron called me this morning, and I enjoyed his friendly and pastoral conversation.
Ron is the lead pastor of Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee. Grace obviously isn’t an Anglican church, but it is a congregation that is making a big impact on the souls of many in its community. Ron also provides ministry consulting and conducts leadership seminars.
I had a couple of questions about ministry as a military chaplain. One was about how to disciple folks with whom I only have a couple of years to share. Ron helped me see that, unlike parochial ministry, mine is a sort of wayside interaction. Most soldiers will not be able to progress significantly over a two-year period (if I even have that long with them), but I can help them along their journey. While I am their chaplain, I can help point them in the right direction, connect them with other Christians, and push them along the track toward maturity in Christ.
My other question related to Army chaplaincy was that of how to reach the 18-25 year old post-post modern generation. How do I engage folks in self-reflection and critical thinking and encourage them to consider the truth of Christianity when they don’t even care? Apologetics is only useful if someone is willing to engage in the discussion. Many young adults today don’t have any internal unrest about holding contradictory beliefs. Ron emphasized building relationships with people so that we can show them the love and character of Christ. In the Army, we call this “ministry of presence.” Building friendships with soldiers shows them that I care about them. In their moment of need, they may turn to me to seek answers about the important questions of life. Ron also reminded me that conversion of the heart is in the Lord’s hands, not mine.
My last question was about a significant transition in ministry that I will undergo later this year. Ron recommended that I talk with one of my fellow clergymen who can help mentor me in the process of planning for the transition. Thinking ahead about how things will be different and developing a plan for the practical implications of the change are important parts of the picture. Ron suggested a step-by-step action plan would be a good place to begin the discussion with my mentor. I’d recently read Ron’s article “7 Suggestions When Interviewing for a Church Staff Position,” and found it helpful in thinking about my future ministry.
In all of these things, the most important point to remember is that God is in control. We should pray for his guidance and intervention, that we will be able to discern the Lord’s will. As we put our trust in him, he will strengthen us by his grace to accomplish his purpose.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to interact with Ron today. While I have several trustworthy colleagues in ministry to whom I turn to for advice, it was helpful to have some ears from outside of my circle to listen to my questions and offer constructive ideas. Based on my experience today, I highly recommend Ron to any clergymen or church elders who could use some outside input on their ministry and church leadership concerns.