March 30, 2019
When I arrived at REACH last week, I explained to the ladies at registration that my husband had registered me because he is helping with sound and I’m just kind of “along”.
They smiled graciously, gave me a packet of information, and waved me through.
When I went to visit the sound room where Marnell and company had set up shop, I found that someone had made a blue staff name tag for me just as they had for Marnell.
“This is a little overkill,” I said, but I pinned it on and went to the first session.
During announcement time, the moderator said, “If you have any questions at all, please feel free to ask someone with a blue name tag.”
Oooops. I thought about my blue name tag. I should probably get a different one so people don’t ask me questions that I can’t answer. But somehow I never got around to it.
I headed over to the ministry displays room. (Coffee was available in that room so I would have ended up there anyway. What a great marketing strategy!) Here, a large number of ministries had set up displays. There were urban Mennonite schools, Christian publishers, music ministries, Anabaptist ministries to refugees, Christian literature ministries, counseling centers, foreign missions and children’s ministries and camps. And probably other categories I’m not thinking of right now.
Many of the ministry tables had photos and cultural decor to symbolize their ministry. Some even had little gifts or treats to eat. I tasted Belizean candy from United Christian Missions, a chocolate espresso bean from Shepherd’s Cup, and a spice cookie, I think from Europe somewhere. I wish I could remember where. I also got an office scissors from Tidings of Peace school in York, PA, and books from both Christian Light Publications and Anabaptist Financial.
One of the ministries was selling copies of Faces of Syria and Voices of Syria. That was cool! A girl picked up one of the books and then looked at me and said, “Was this one yours?”
“No,” I said, unable to resist, “but I wrote it.”
I think she was glad that I said something and I offered to sign it for her.
What a great opportunity, I thought, to ask questions! So I developed an informal survey plan.
“Hello,” I would say. “I’m a writer and I’m doing a survey because I can’t help asking nosy questions.”
I asked them all the same basic question: “What is the biggest struggle in your ministry/ item that you pray about?”
The answers were fascinating, and often led to more conversation. I felt privileged to get to hear the hearts of many people, their eyes telling me of the depth of the needs around them. Spiritual battles. Vision. More workers.
At one booth, close to the end of the conference, the people asked me if I was from Faith Builders. It wasn’t the first time I had been asked this, so I said once more, no I got this name tag kind of accidentally because of my husband.
“It might be helping you with this survey!” they replied. “People are probably more willing to talk to you because they think you’re staff!”
“Oh! You might be right,” I said. “I guess I should go thank them for it.”
We had a good laugh before I headed off to the next booth, but I do hope no one considers my research method fraudulent due to my blue name tag. I looked up the word impostor, and it’s a person who pretends to be another to deceive others, especially for fraudulent gain. Help!
Below are the informal results of my survey. Clarifications about my methods are as follows.
- If I got two answers I did include both of them, so there are a few more entries than ministries.
- I surveyed whoever happened to be at the booth. Some people were board members. Some were workers on the field.
- I did not quite get around to all of the ministries, and I also surveyed two people whose ministries were not represented in the displays.
If any of you who obliged by answering my question are reading this, thank you! And I hope you weren’t just answering because you trusted my name tag!
BELOW CHART: Ministries answer the question, What is your biggest struggle?
|Need for staff||19||33.9%|
|Changes in administration/defining ministry and vision/|
|Staff relationships/providing care for staff/|
staff church struggles
|Dealing with cultural issues/language||3||5.4%|
|Dependency to independence||3||5.4%|
|Discipleship/broken homes/ |
young children with smart phones
|Counseling those in dark sins/sexual sins||2||3.6%|
|Sense of spiritual battle||2||3.6%|
|Merging business with missions||1||1.8%|