Why does it matter?
Today we conclude the Ministry series. In Ministry 2 – What? we discovered that ministry is service through gifts. Since everyone’s in the ministry (Ministry 1 – Who?), every member of the body of Christ has something to offer.
Now before I go on, I want you to know I’m not trying to awkwardly imply that everyone is a leader (although we all have influence), or to suggest that leadership structures should be disassembled! There are many scriptures on leadership, and surely we need more, not fewer, men and women willing to lead. Nor do I wish to quibble about words. I recognize that “ministry” is often shorthand for “the ministry of the word” (as in Acts 6:4). I myself was in the ministry (in this sense) for 20 years, and although since 2003 I’ve been a freelance teacher, I’ve never stopped being in the ministry since I became a Christian. I don’t think it’s wrong to use the term when referring to church staff workers. What is wrong is to use this term exclusively of those on staff, referring to others as “non-ministry” people. Why does it matter?
- Doers and spectators is not a biblical model of discipleship! There’s only one tier — not two!
- The clergy / laity division has been a perennial problem afflicting church culture since at least the 3rd century. It is directly related to declining standards of commitment.
- It’s inherently elitist. (Either you are “ministry material” or not.)
- “Ministry” lingo discourages others who want to be used, but may never be in the fortunate position of making their living from the gospel.
Leaders who call themselves ministers yet do not view others as being in the ministry are often frustrated that the church has become a body of spectators. But is it any wonder, when they’ve created / condoned a two-tier discipleship model?
We enter the ministry when we become Christians. If we have left the ministry, then we are not truly following Christ! Let’s get everyone on board. There’s far too much work to do to leave it to a handful of professionals.
- Who is in the ministry? Every Christian, whether on church staff or not.
- What is ministry? Serving others through using our gifts.
- Why is the language important? Inaccurate terminology reinforces wrong theology, which compromises the spiritual health of the church and of the individual Christian.