Ministry (part four)

After wrapping up this little series that has gone on for too long, I have decided that the maximum number of posts that I can handle in a series is 3. After 3 I become too scatter-brained and begin to look for ideas elsewhere. So here is the conclusion of my little series of thoughts on ministry. I’ll be wrapping up with the final two questions that I posted in my original list:

Are we neglecting the ministries of any parts of the body of Christ?
Does the church need to redefine “ministry” and who the experts on ministry are?

I may have already made my case sufficiently in the third post of this series, but for the sake of tying up some loose ends, here are a few more thoughts:

It is very easy for Christian leaders as well as lay Christians to become enamored with a desire to have an official, church sanctioned “ministry.” Whether it’s a children’s ministry, home group, or greeting ministry, all are connected with a church in some way and therefore seem to qualify as a ministry.

While these ministries have merit in their place and context, I have been wondering if the church has neglected the ministries of its lay people in their daily lives. Have we only prepared Christians to minister within the walls of the church and not in their daily contact with the world? Have we inadvertantly limited our potential for ministry?

In addition, do we only recognize professional church ministers when we speak of ministry? Though many churches are inclined to say that everyone is a minister, we certainly have created some kind of ministry hierarchy where the paid minister is above those who squeeze in ministry in their spare time.

If anything, I believe the church needs to build up people where they are at and push them to find out how God wants to use them. Instead of snatching Christians into the ministry during weekday evenings and weekends, I think it’s far more sensible to encourage them in their present context. Are they in a book club? Are they in a writing or sewing group? Do they have a home where the neighborhood kids gather? Let’s think about ways to be a redemptive influence in these contexts, living out the Kingdom of God. One need not preach to have a ministry.

The key word for me in all of this is “incarnation.” How can we incarnate the love and salvation of God into our context?