“I would like to encourage you to stop thinking of what you’re doing as ministry. Start realizing that your ministry is how much of a tip you leave when you eat in a restaurant; when you leave a hotel room whether you leave it all messed up or not; whether you flush your own toilet or not. Your ministry is the way that you love people. And you love people when you write something that is encouraging to them, something challenging. You love people when you call your wife and say, ‘I’m going to be late for dinner,’ instead of letting her burn the meal. You love people when maybe you cook a meal for your wife sometime, because you know she’s really tired. Loving people – being respectful toward them – is much more important than writing or doing music.” ~Rich Mullins, singer & songwriter
“Ah. I smiled. I’m not really here to keep you from freaking out. I’m here to be with you while you freak out, or grieve or laugh or suffer or sing. It is a ministry of presence. It is showing up with a loving heart.” ~Kate Braestrup, community minister
Originally posted on Facebook, 2008
It seems that every fellow Christian with whom I speak is involved with some formal ministry–it is good that believers are engaged in the service of others in Christ’s name. Though, I’m still not sure I agree with the semantics conveyed in terming formal Christian endeavors as “ministry.” Maybe, it is because I think that it might take focus away from the bigger ministry from which these more embedded ministries are enacted…
By definition, a ministry is something that “serves as an agency, instrument, or means.” Therefore, a Christian ministry, I gather, serves as an agency, instrument, or means to live a lifestyle and possess a heart mirroring Jesus Christ. If so, would it be fair to surmise that as a practicing Christian, I am a ministry? Do my actions and presence in the lives of others serve as an instrument to bring others into a relationship with Christ? Would such a relationship change one’s heart and move them to mirror His Way? Does it become apparent why we should be concerned with the common denotation of the word “ministry” as currently used in Christian circles?
By claiming we are involved with a ministry, are we implying that we are not a ministry? Involvement means participation in something; it becomes a compartmentalized action within our lives. However, are we not asked to be more than that? Are we not asked to BE a ministry?
For those of you who speak in such terms daily and are actively “involved in a ministry,” please hear me out before getting defensive. I am not chastising or criticizing anyone for his or her involvement with a group that calls itself a ministry. What I am challenging is the mindset of specialization that I see with many, if not all Christians. I am just as guilty as the next Christian in minimizing the meaning of the word “ministry.”
There is no wrong in acting on a passion to guide and be a beacon to a specific group of people that are in a specific phase of life towards Jesus. The problem is when you do not recognize that you still hold that same obligation to EVERY person with whom you come into contact with throughout each moment of your life, regardless of classification; living accordingly. As Christians, we might as well consider ourselves on salary and on-call at all times. From my limited knowledge of God’s expectations, I find it hard to believe He hires part-time or seasonal (i.e. Christmas, Easter) Christians.
Good help is hard to find. So much so, that when we were messing up a few thousand years ago, He ended up coming down to Earth and doing His work Himself. He showed us how to do His work the way He wanted, and is still with us (Holy Spirit) the whole time we’re working for Him, even today! And the way it seems that we’re going as a collective, it wouldn’t be surprising if He makes another trip down here, in the flesh, soon.
I’m beginning to believe that we make being a Christian WAY more confusing than it should be. We take what Jesus called an “easy yoke,” or a “simple way,” and have made it quite difficult to follow. I sometimes question that He ever asks us to establish another religion, as there are plenty of those–but only share the Good News, and help one another to follow the Way.
Religions are man-made institutions with man-made laws. The rules of religion work to control the faith of its members; therefore, how can it be faith? Do you believe God to guide you, or do you allow the rules of a religion to restrict you from listening to God’s purpose for you? Religion was the barrier that kept the Pharisees of Jesus’ time from knowing Him. Do you heed His Word? Do you know His love?
As Jesus came to this world to provide us a DIRECT relationship with Him (God), the concept of religion/church is in some ways redundant. When two or more come together in His name, THAT IS CHURCH (Matthew 18:20).
That being said, I do believe in collective worship, and in the institutions…
But it isn’t the buildings that establish the Church, but the believers in community working as a body…His body.
And could ministry be as simple as an individual living in relationship with Jesus, being His hands and feet to all; providing the opportunity for the Church to grow, one person at a time?
I will forever fail to have all the answers, as who am I to comprehend the Omnipotent? However, it will not stop me from searching, seeking, and desiring to comprehend His Will to the best that I am capable…