Ministry (part three)

Continuing with some thoughts on ministry:

Who are the teachers and respected practioners telling the church how to do ministry? What is the effect of this on the church?

This is an area where I must tread softly, lest I am misunderstood.

Going back to my first question: “What is ministry?” I mentioned that ministry is often characterized as a professional, full-time minister in a church or parachurch organization. How do we know this? Because people often speak of going “into the ministry,” and this almost always means professional ministry. In addition, the vast majority of the books out there on Christian ministry are by pastors of large congregations. Publishers who are looking for people with “ministry experience” want to see a list of churches where a person has served. “Salt and light at a local business” does not count. In addition, if you attend a conference on ministry, who else speaks but pastors and other full-time ministry leaders?

OK, here’s where things get dicey. My theory is that the church is operating with some limitations or blind spots. Not to discredit the wonderful teachings of many full-time pastors and ministers of local churches . . . but. But our teachings on ministry are heavily weighted to one side, the pastoral side. I would never say that a pastor in full-time ministry has nothing to say to his congregation working in secular jobs and trying to be salt and light . . . but . . . we are missing something. They have much to teach us and they have an important role to fulfill, but we are limiting ourselves.

This is perhaps one of the greatest reasons why blogs are so good for the church. Now I can read about the struggles, encouragement, and thoughts of Christians who are following Jesus amidst the rigors of daily life outside the confines of church. The church desperately needs to hear from its lay members who are working in secular environments, not just the professionals in ministry.

Where I’m Coming From
For three years I worked in a church. Before that I was very involved in a church as a volunteer, helping out with a bunch of ministries. I have spent a lot of time in church. Lots.

The result is that I suffered a disconnect from the rest of the world. The pastor I worked with at my last church job acknowledged the same. During my last year we worked very hard to bring the church back in to the community, getting involved in community life. That opened our eyes to areas where we were failing to live out the Gospel locally.

In addition, my current job is at a secular place and it has been a very good thing for me. It is refreshing to share the basics of the Gospel with others. I have also wrestled with what exactly the Gospel is and found that I never really had a good idea. Realizing how important the Gospel is to my daily interaction with others at work has pushed me deeper in to God and his plan to reunite creation with the Creator through the life, death, resurrection, and return of Jesus. This never really came up while I was in a church. Now it’s all I want to talk about.

Thanks to blogs I have a more complete picture of Christian ministry. Not only am I blessed by professional pastors and their teachings (typically through Windows Media files), I am also taught and encouraged via blogs by a number of Christians who are living the Gospel outside of the church walls.