If you were raised in the same kind of church I was, then you probably grew up understanding that ministry was something that was only done by a select few. This may not have been the explicit teaching that I heard growing up, but it certainly seemed to be the implied teaching. For instance, when someone was called to preach we were told they ‘surrendered to the ministry.’ I’ll write a post in the future explaining my issues with wording of surrender, but this was the only time I really heard about ministry. The word ministry was exclusively used to refer to the preaching or pastoral ministry.
Therefore, I grew up thinking that ministry was something that pastors, preachers, missionaries and maybe deacons did. You know, the ‘ordained’ people or people that had some sort of full time Christian worker position. ‘Regular’ people weren’t allowed the great privilege of ministry. Don’t get me wrong, regular people could do stuff. Regular people could live for the Lord, witness, some might could lead singing, or play the piano, or maybe teach a SS class. However, it seemed implied that these things were somewhat inferior to the coveted position of ministry. This may not have been what was taught, but it was certainly what I perceived.
Several years ago I did a study that challenged my perception of what ministry was and who was supposed to do it. One of the things I realized in this study was that the most basic understanding of ministry is that ministry is serving Christ by serving others. I also realized that ministry is not limited to a privileged few, but that ministry is something that all Christians are supposed to do.
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” Ephesians 4:11-12 (NKJV)
In this passage, Paul reminds us that different people have different jobs within the church. The pastor has a job and the people have a job. Their jobs are not the same but both are absolutely necessary for the health and life of the church.
Many people feel that the primary role of the pastor is to do the work of the ministry. However, from this verse we can see this is not the case. The primary purpose of the pastor is to equip the saints so they can do the work of the ministry. Within the local church, the pastor has a particular ministry role that he is to fulfill. At the same time, the members of the church have particular ministry roles that they are to fulfill. These are separate ministry roles but equally important.
One of the things we realize with this is that every Christian should be involved in ministry. Every Christian should actively be serving Christ by serving others. The list of things that are considered ministry are numerous.
Teaching Sunday school is ministry.
Leading the singing is ministry.
Playing an instrument during worship is ministry.
Teaching children’s church is ministry.
According to what Paul said in Ephesians, pretty much anything I do to serve Christ by serving others would be considered ministry. Therefore, every Christian should consider themselves to be in ministry.
What does ministry look like? Or more accurately, what does faithful ministry look like? How do we do ministry in a way that pleases God? One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Matthew 25 where the two faithful servants were told, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Isn’t that what we all want? We want more than to go to heaven but to go to heaven and hear our Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” So, how do we minister in such a way to ensure this happens? That is what I’m going to write about this week.
For further study read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8.
What would be some characteristics of faithful ministry?
Will our ministry always be popular or accepted by the world?
How should we handle the Gospel in our ministry?
What attitude should characterize our ministry?