Our Conference SM org, The Pathfinder, is an affair of small potatoes. We rarely have more than ten dues-paying members. Nevertheless, we send out over 125 newsletters, to members, former members, leaders in the Indiana Conference, leaders across The UMC, donors, former retreat participants, really anyone we can find. There’s a huge Scouting ministry community out there, and despite our small size, we are about the only group in the field still attempting to communicate with someone. Against the massive disinterest, disorganization, and dysfunction of The United Methodist Church, we keep at least some people connected and make at least something happen for the cause of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
And every now and then, when truly big potatoes are being cooked, the fact that we kept the faith and kept in contact with each other means that people can come out of the woodwork who want to help. When we were faced with raising many thousands of dollars in six months to pull off a jamboree in DR Congo in 2014, I sent out letters to everyone I thought might help, plus put the word out in The Pathfinder. People and churches I had never heard of sent us money. People I had known for years suddenly decided that this was the cause they wanted to make a really serious donation to. And so we did it. If we had not done all the small, piddly things we could not have pulled off the big deal.
People think that ministry is about standing in front of hundreds or thousands of people and moving them with their words, and sometimes it is. They also frequently think that leadership is about being the decision-maker in a large organization that hums along by itself until they want to put some new input to the machine, and sometimes that illusion can be sustained. But ministry is about what you care about, whom you care about, and what you will inconvenience yourself to keep doing even in the face of others’ scorn or mockery and your own discouragement. And leadership is not getting other people to go where you want them to go, but knowing with intense clarity where YOU want to go, and then taking responsibility for the others who will follow you because you seem to know where you’re going.