Continuing the series on ministry, the next question is:
Does the whole church take ownership for ministry?
Answering this question requires my first question: What is ministry? If my broad definition, the work of the Lord, is accepted, then the conversation will take a very different turn from the possibilities that accompany a narrow defintion: ministry is limited to the work of the organized church and clergy. Many Christians probably live somewhere in between the two. They do not consider their jobs, hobbies, or relationships to be worthy of the categorizing of ministry. Though some surely do think of these things as ministry, the bloated collection of “ministries” at many churches suggests otherwise.
Unless enlisted in a church-sponsored activity, I did not consider myself to be in ministry. Of course moving a few times and struggling to find a church causes a quick reevaluation of unquestioned assumptions.
Joe Meyers, author of The Search to Belong, talks about the need for churches to start “counting” activities outside of church as viable connection points. The church does not need to create new connection points if they are happening elsewhere. The best thing a church can do in this case is to nurture these natural events and do all that it can to make these moments meaningful. I believe the same holds true for ministry.
The church does not need to start minitries as much as it needs to encourage and network its people in their ministries. There certainly are times when the church should come together to initiate a ministry, but if churches are good at anything, it’s reinventing the wheel.
What if churches encouraged and resourced young people to blog and use media in order to provide a Christian voice online? Not to proselytize, but to be salt and light, sharing our love for Jesus in our blogs, web sites, and media so that others can have a taste of Him and take a step closer to the God who has been reaching out to them all along. What if book groups, knitting groups, or any other group already happening, were given some informal help from someone in the church who understands group dynamics and helps that meeting become a success? What if churches really took the time to learn about the work places of their people and helped them live out the Gospel in that context.
There’s no need to create more ministries in most cases. A little research into a community, the people in the congregation, and a revisioning of how to support one another could go a long way. There will always be certain ministries that only a church can provide, and so it’s always good to proceed with caution. Yet, a good first step is to affirm the vital importance of each Christian who is in ministry, and we all are.