Below is a paper that I wrote for my Intro to Ministry class taught by Dr Janet Starks in April 2015. The purpose of this paper was to explore what is ministry by interviewing then people.
“Ministry, to me, is sharing the love of Christ, in word and deed” (Loew 2015) captures the essence of ministry, but how ministry is done in a practical way can vary from person to person. The purpose of this paper is to define the verb of ministry, and for some it may focus on doing ministry as their vocation, often times called “the ministry” (Drury 2003, 29), but for others it means serving people in the context in which they are placed. Regardless of where they do ministry though, ministry should reflect the ministry of Jesus, which comprised of serving others, discipling others, and loving others.
In The Call of a Lifetime, Keith Drury states that ministry, at the very basic meaning of the word means to serve others, and includes anything that one person may do to serve another person (Drury 2003, 27). This general service to people could be called general ministry (Drury 2003, 28) as it is not a specific ministry, such a preaching or teaching. Ministry would not be ministry if it did not involve serving. Jesus has commanded us to love God with our entire being, to love others as ourselves, to make disciples, and to humbly serve others (Padmore 2015). As Christians, we are called to follow the life of Jesus, and the Gospels state that Jesus came to serve (Matthew 20:28). Since the Gospels narrate Jesus life and ministry, it can be assumed that we too are not to be served, but to serve others. Matthew goes on to state that the greatest among us will be a servant (Matthew 5:16). In his Epistle to the Corinthian Church the Apostle Paul told us that he became a servant to all so he could win more people to Christ. Since ministry is about winning people to Christ, we must become servants in order to do this. In a society such as ours where people are very focused on themselves, when someone does an act of service to another person, it is counter cultural and makes your ministry to those people more effective. We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ and a reflection of his heart to the world by serving those who are most in need of his presence (Padmore 2015).
In the New Testament we see discipleship as a major part of Jesus’ ministry, and, in turn, should be a large part of our ministry. If we are not making disciples then it would seem that we are not completing the Great Commission that was laid out to us by Jesus in Matthew 28: 16-20. Within this passage, Jesus tells his disciples to go forth and teach and baptize everyone in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is the essence of discipleship. This discipleship of believers could be viewed as preparing other Christians for their general ministry to which all Christians are called. (Drury 2003, 29). The key aspect of making disciples is loving with humility, as laid out in Phillippians 2:3-5. Discipleship is all about the other person, and this is reflected in ministry. It is not about you or your accomplishments, but rather, about honour and glory to God’s kingdom (Melanson 2015). Discipleship is something that I try to do with the youth at home. By discipling them intensively they are able to go out and disciple the people in their school. The pastor’s child in my youth group never understood why I so heavily invested in them until they spent a summer working at the district camp. It was then as a counselor that they got to see first hand the importance of ministering to people through discipleship as they were creating their own disciples and pointing them to Christ. This discipleship is done out of love for our fellow people as we are Christ’s ambassadors (Crozier 2015).
We, as Christians are the best representative of love that the world has as we are the bringers of God’s love to the world. It does not matter how good our services are or our music if we are not caring for our communities (Crozier 2015), and loving our community drives us to make disciples through the times when we feel let down and what motivates us to live the life that Christ has laid out for us (Melanson 2015). Kelly Jay, worship pastor at Kings Valley Wesleyan Church in Quispamsis, New Brunswick said that for her, “…Ministry is all about loving people – whether it’s cooking supper for my family… connecting with people after church service, or visiting someone in the hospital. Daily, God moves and inspires me with His love and my challenge is to love others in that same sacrificial way” (Jay 2015). This encapsulates what ministry is. This self-sacrificing love is the driving force behind all that Christians do. This should motivate us to accomplish the work laid out before them by Christ. We must have a willingness to show God’s lover to others, and one of the easiest ways is to meet their tangible, physical needs (Padmore 2015). This love that we show to those who are in need is a reflection of the love that has been shown to use daily through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. When we reflect back the image of God instead of ourselves, we point people to him through his love that we are extending to his people.
Ministry is the call of everyone who calls themselves a believer in the resurrection of Christ. Although not all are called to ministry as a vocation, we must live out ministry in our daily lives through acts of service, active discipleship, and the ongoing love of those around us. Without these three core principles of what ministry is, the Christian walk is severely lacking in both power and tangibility, for without these three traits of ministry, we become nothing more than people who do good for the sake of doing good.
Crozier, Dustin. 2015. Interview by the author. Roblin, ON. March 12.
Drury, Keith. 2003. The Call of a Lifetime. Indianapolis, Indiana: Wesleyan Publishing House.
Jay, Kelly. 2015. Interview by the author. Quispamsis, NB. April 4.
Loew, Mindy. 2015. Interview by the author. Sussex, NB. April 9.
Melanson, Jamin. 2015. Interview by the author. Fort Fairfield, ME. March 13.
Padmore, Jessica. 2015. Interview by the author. Ottawa, ON. March 18.