Ministry for the Masses
For whatever reason, there’s a tendency in many churches for people to view pastors as the ones chiefly responsible for ministry and the rest of believers as mere spectators. They view their role as merely attending the church service and watching the professionals do their thing.
If a need arises during the week—like if someone’s sick in the hospital or perhaps struggling with a certain issue in their life—people often think that there’s nothing they can do except call the pastor because he’s the only one who has any real ability to minister. It’s as if ordination or seminary has given him magical powers to do ministry that no one else has. And so there’s nothing left for everyone else to do except sit in the bleachers and watch the professionals do their thing.
Thankfully, Ephesians 4 rescues us from that mentality. Paul states in verse 12 that leaders “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”
That’s how God designed things to function: leaders equip the saints to do the bulk of ministry.
On Monday evenings, I usually go to the gym to play racquetball. And at the gym, I’ll see these guys working out who are incredibly ripped, and you can tell that they’re quite proud of their muscular appearance.
You know what I’m talking about. They go around with shirts that have these enormous armholes going all the way down to their hips. They’re always looking around to see if anyone’s watching them. Or maybe they’ll go over to the mirror so they can admire themselves—especially if no one else is admiring them because, hey, it would be a shame to let such a perfectly sculpted body go to waste.
But sometimes I just want to ask them, “What are you going to do with all of those muscles? What practical value do they have? Clearly you are so ripped that this goes beyond just your own personal health. And I’m guessing you don’t need all those muscles just for your daily tasks either. So what is it? What exactly are you planning on doing?”
However, think about what’s commonly taking place in churches. It seems like many believers just want to keep lifting weights and getting more spiritual muscles, but they don’t actually do anything with all of those muscles.
They read and study and learn and acquire knowledge, but they don’t actually do anything with it. They don’t use all of their learning to make disciples or build up the church or make a difference for God’s Kingdom. They just want to keep on studying and supposedly “growing,” but their knowledge never actually gets put to good use in ministering to other people.
And no, arguing about theology on Facebook or in the comments section of different blogs doesn’t count as ministry. Ministry is about people. It’s about building relationships with people and loving people and helping people and humbly speaking truth into people’s lives.
And you know what? That’s something God gives every Christian the opportunity to be a part of. In fact, not only the opportunity but also the calling.
Think about it like this. Every Christian has the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit lives within us for a purpose. The fact that we have the Holy Spirit should tell us that God is calling us to do something that requires the Spirit.
Consider the physical body. We have pointy teeth, right? They’re called canine teeth. And the fact that we have these pointy canine teeth tells me that we were meant to eat meat. God gave us those teeth so we could sink them into a nice juicy steak and enjoy it. Or consider our feet. God gave us feet because we’re supposed to walk places, not just crawl around everywhere. God also gave us hands because we’re supposed to grab things.
All of these parts of our body point to a purpose. And in addition to having all these physical things, we also have the Holy Spirit. Why do you think we have the Holy Spirit? It’s because God intends that we do things that require the Holy Spirit. He wants us to minister to other believers.
So let me challenge you to begin viewing Sundays as equipping sessions for your ministry throughout the week. Have others in the church over for dinner, grab some coffee together. Talk about your Bible reading, your prayer times, marriage, parenting, the struggles and uncertainties of life—whatever you think would be meaningful for you to talk about.
I can tell you that my life wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for godly men who invested in me and had substantive conversations with me and led me closer to spiritual maturity. It was all because they stepped off the bleachers and onto the playing field.