We’re continuing our series building a case for excellence in online ministry. Today we discuss the role excellence in celebrating our ministry efforts. We encourage you to learn more about the Excellence in Online Ministry project or to sign up to participate in our online ministry research. Thank you for visiting the State of Ministry Online!
We’re the ones dealing with the hard stuff in life. We deal day in and day out with the world’s hurt and sadness. We combat pain, loneliness, sickness, and death.
And we often do this with inadequate resources. We often work alone, isolated from our peers by the constant demands of our ministry or by the lack of resources. Often we are called to be encouragers but seldom are encouraged.
The rewards for our work are not immediate. And while the rest of the world enjoys the fruits of its labors, we endeavor in faith that the reward that awaits us is far greater.
On top of all of this, our work is never done. Until Christ’s return there will always be sin. Death. Poverty. War. The challenges we face can seem insurmountable while our ministry goals always seem just out of reach.
We see this even in Paul’s ministry. In his letter to the church in Thessalonica he says:
“For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.” (1 Thessalonians 2:9 ESV)
Any ministry leader will tell you that it can be hard to find the motivation to keep going. This is especially true for those working in online ministry as we are a step further removed from those who we are serving and are often met with critique or skepticism of the validity of doing ministry online.
Our hope is that by identifying ministries that are being excellent online, we can provide a little bit of encouragement to the men and women who give so much of themselves. The Excellence in Online Ministry project gives us an opportunity to say “good job” to different ministries.
You might be thinking, “What good is this to those ministries who aren’t doing cutting-edge online ministry? By highlighting excellence won’t you isolate those ministries who don’t live up to your standard of excellence? Don’t you risk demotivating ministries by pointing out their short-comings?”
Yes, the potential for this exists. But the truth is that in our ministry toil, it is in the areas where we fall short, in the suffering and hardship that we endure for the sake of the Gospel, that Christ is most glorified. For it is the power of Christ that overcomes all weakness, all suffering, all hardship. What Christ has endured for the world’s sake gives us the strength and motivation to keep striving to do more.
When we talk about celebrating excellence, we are talking about acknowledging instances of excellence in online ministries. We believe this type of recognition has creates a number of benefits:
But celebrating ministry excellence also means celebrating weaknesses. Excellence provides a lens through which a ministry can evaluate both its strengths and weaknesses. And if the our standard of excellence is God-centered, then when we look at our ministry’s weaknesses, it is only to look past them in order to see the glory of Jesus Christ who makes up for our inadequacies. Paul, who suffered greatly in his ministry, describes this in 2 Corinthians:
23Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
30If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. (2 Corinthians 11:23-30 ESV)
Don’t get me wrong, what ministries are currently doing well online is great. But the grace of God, when seen in how we evaluate our efforts is better. Excellence in online ministry must glorify God above all else. And when it does (whether through strength or weakness) it is cause for celebration.
In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23 ESV)