This shift in ministry has been the most exciting, fun, challenging, yet hardest task I have undertaken. We all get hyped about missional living, but to step out into the world of living it—well, I can't say it's easy. Financially, it can be challenging when you only have a Bible college education and when your only work experience is in church administration. I found myself stepping out into the entrepreneurial world to start my dance business. Business has opened doors to be in the community, but can also be shaky when financial storms hit our economy.
There are many others like me who have, for whatever reason, shifted from full-time ministry to a time in the "desert." They question whether they were truly "called" at all. As frustrating as this is, through my experience I have found that a sense of mission and purpose can grow greater in these times. Kingdom innovation can happen when we can look past our ministry box and see with new eyes. The good news is that the church is starting to embrace "weirdos" like me.
How the Measurement of Success Changes
One challenge of being an urban missionary is that what once measured successful ministry in the past becomes obsolete. If you can't count how many people came to the service on Sunday, then how do you know you're having impact? The beginning stages of "success" become more about how many relationships are being built—trust, friendship, and inroads with the community become the reports at district conference. This creates a tension for the urban worker and supporters, who often want to hear about success through the traditional lens of "numbers." "What do you mean, you had a block party with your neighbors? Where's the ‘fruit'?"
The urban missionary can easily become discouraged battling through her own traditional mindset about what success looks like. At this point, it takes all the courage she has to keep going and not quit, as this is the road less taken, a road that can take years. There's no quick fruit on this ride.