Who Has a Ministry? What is Ministry? Can I Blog This Without Ranting?

I promised myself I wouldn’t gripe. I promised myself I wouldn’t rant. I will be good. I will write this in a civil fashion. I will not complain. I will be nice. Here it goes.

Ministry. At one point in my life I wanted to go into “The Ministry.” This meant that I would be a paid pastor in a congregation that hired me to take care of their spiritual needs. I would preach on Sunday or lead a ministry in the church, my wife would lead a women’s Bible study or the children’s ministry, and that the church would try to be a “friendly” place for visitors. That is grossly simplified, but somewhat accurate.

Others who go into ministry will seek out a position with parachurch organizations. Though these groups tend to be very “hands on” and in the world, some do create large infrastructures with offices and layers of staff for better or for worse.

Generally speaking, no one who says “I’m going into ministry” means a 9-5 job at a secular factory, office, restaurant, etc. Ministry means parachurch or something done in a church. There are exceptions of course, but that’s basically the connotations of the word. And these connotations have prompted some thoughts on my part:

  1. What is ministry exactly?
  2. Does the whole church take ownership of this ministry? If not, why?
  3. Who are the teachers and respected practioners telling the church how to do ministry? What is the effect of this on the church?
  4. Are we neglecting the ministries of any parts of the body of Christ?
  5. Does the church need to redefine “ministry” and who the experts on ministry are?

OK, I’ll show my hand here. It’s fairly obvious that I’m going somewhere with this. I have a point I’m trying to make, or better yet, a theory I’d like to throw out there. Answering these questions will help me address the issues. In brief, here are my answers.

  1. What is ministry exactly? It includes sharing the physical and spiritual benefits of the Good News of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and return. Ministry calls all creation to repentance so there can be reconciliation with God.
  2. Does the whole church take ownership of this ministry? If not, why? I do not think the whole church takes ownership of ministry. Part of the reason is a very limited view that ministry only occurs in church with professional ministers. We do not view our lives as mission and ministry.
  3. Who are the teachers and respected practioners telling the church how to do ministry? What is the effect of this on the church? Professional ministers write the books and speak at the conferences. While they have much to teach the church, they are also at a disadvantage by not being immersed in the daily rigors of a secular work place. Their position becomes idealized by the church, while the work place and other potential spheres of ministry become less important.
  4. Are we neglecting the ministries of any parts of the body of Christ? The ministries of rank and file lay Christians are overlooked.
  5. Does the church need to redefine “ministry” and who the experts on ministry are? The church needs to balance the lay ministers with the professional ministers. Though many good things come out of a pastor’s study, the church desperately needs to hear from disciples who are carrying the good news of reconciliation into their work places.

That’s about all for now. I hope to follow up on this in depth soon. How am I doing so far?