Resilience in ESL Ministry – Top Tips

Sow to reap (Galatians 6:7-8). Sowing was a thankless task because only a fraction of the grain you tossed on the ground would produce fruit, and even then not for many months. Paul used this picture to describe Christian ministry. Like the farmer, the only way to endure is to focus on the harvest to come. Are my eyes on the prize?
Rely on God’s Spirit (Galatians 6:8). Just as the sower can do absolutely nothing to make the grain germinate, but relies 100% on God’s sunshine and ‘cool refreshing rain’, so the Christian sows, then waits in 100% dependency on God’s Spirit. Am I doing this ministry in my own strength or through the Spirit and to please the Spirit?
Remind yourself that now is the time and we must take the opportunities (Galatians 6:10). God has chosen to send many people from various nations to our shores at this time. We need to make the most of this. Do I remind myself and my team that this is God’s time to bring the nations to us?
Carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2-5). Are you working in isolation? Are there others who could join you in the work even if it’s just to come and make cups of tea or help welcome students? Are you communicating well with your church so that they can get fully behind you in prayer? Is my ESL ministry well enough connected with the wider church and beyond?
Maintain a clear vision and to do this, make sure you have a business plan. Church-based ESL provision needs a vision statement, aim, goals, strategies and action plans that have been agreed by the church.

Be willing to flex A good business plan is designed to be updated. Our churches and communities are in constant flux and we need to respond appropriately. Do you and your team meet to review things so that such updates can be discussed and agreed upon?
Be realistic Think carefully about the capacity you and your team have. Don’t be afraid to follow school term times and limit teaching to 5 weeks before and five weeks after every half term. This will ensure that you enjoy better term times and better breaks. Given that teaching is only part of what you’re doing, and you are aiming to build relationships and share the gospel, it is especially important that there is space and energy for this.
Improve connectivity As well as improving the connections within your own church (see Top Tip 4), have you made links with other local churches running a similar ESL ministry? Could you visit them, share ideas, pray for each other etc? There are also country-wide networks of church-based ESL ministries to tap into: TEN and 2:19. Don’t forgot the English and Outreach Forum as a way of connecting with others too!
Refuse the periphery Don’t be content to sit on the edge of church life with ESL ministry. Cross-cultural work needs to be at the heart of church life because our God is a missionary God. It’s important to work together with your church leadership, from the very beginning, to guide, nourish and nurture this work, under their authority, as a whole church ministry.