mike_henry_sr — 2016-11-03T09:36:33-04:00 — #1
I'm new to the forum and curious about how people define the term "ministry?" What is your working definition and how does that affect how you live your life? Thanks!
gao_lu — 2016-11-03T10:24:54-04:00 — #2
Welcome to the forums Mike. I too look forward to this discussion. I don't have time to contribute much now (my wife is calling), but thoughts come to mind:
- Ministry in the OT sense of יָד (power) / שָׁרֵת (ritual service) / עֲבֹדָה (just getting the work done)
- Ministry in the NT sense of λειτουργία (public service) / διακονία (service in the church, providing for needs, etc.)
Ministry seems to be a broad term ranging from an office in a congregation of denomination to mowing the lawn or changing light bulbs.
I would toss out that ministry is something every Christian is commissioned to do, whether it be helping the poor, public service, being ministers of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18) or pastoring a congregation.
Looking forward to more thoughts.
charles_mcneil — 2016-11-03T10:58:15-04:00 — #3
I, too, want to welcome you to Christian Discourse. Ministry can be defined as one who sees himself (by calling or appointment) as "God’s instrument chosen to help the world and the church to understand God’s thoughts and acts revealed in Scripture, because the power of God is in the content of the words of Scripture." This can be a particular area. Spiritual gifts are utilized (innate or acquired).
I look forward to sharing with you on other topics. CM
bill_coley — 2016-11-03T11:51:05-04:00 — #4
Welcome to the forums, Mike.
I think "ministry" has both ecclesiastical and biblical meanings; sadly, those two don't always align.
The ecclesiastical meaning of the word pertains to the men and women who serve as called-out ("ordained" is the ten dollar word) servants of Christ pursuing in myriad ways the mission Jesus gave his followers: to preach the Gospel, to make disciples, and to be his witnesses around the world. Pastors lead/serve flocks of Jesus followers in congregations. Chaplains share the hope and presence of Christ with residents of the institutions in which they serve. These and all other ecclesiastical "ministers" are called-out witnesses to and servants of Christ in their ecclesiastically-rooted settings.
The biblical meaning of "ministry" certainly includes priests, overseers, et al - Scriptural predecessors of today's institutional "ministry" - but also includes the work/life anyone does in service to Jesus, the one he or she calls "Lord." In my view, the story Jesus tells of the master who entrusts three servants with varying amounts of resources (Matthew 25.14-30) is a variation on a ministry theme. Ministry is what followers do in service to the mission of Christ in their life settings in advance of their reunion with the one who called them to serve - in settings ecclesiastical and not.
Hope that responds to the questions you raise. I look forward to your forum contributions.
mike_henry_sr — 2016-11-04T06:10:27-04:00 — #6
Thanks @Gao_Lu, @Bill_Coley and @Charles_McNeil for your replies.
I'm a workplace believer. I'm not trying to pick a fight, but I am trying to understand what people think. While I think the words you use to define "ministry" could apply to any Christ-follower, it seems to me like you mean that ministers are people who have left the secular workplace. Do you feel like there is a difference between the "ministry" I might have at my day job and your definitions above? Or do you see them as the same?
I think @Bill_Coley's definition is closest to my own working definition:
But, I'm curious how many people believe the job of a minister is different from what I am called to do. Do you think that is a common belief? Again, thanks for your thoughts.
dave_l — 2016-11-04T06:17:27-04:00 — #7
Thanks for your post and hopefully more. I spent some time mulling over your question while on my daily bike trek. And it came to me that some of the kind old Christian folks I met along life's way impacted me more than anything. No matter the theology, the church, the Pastors the skill and talent. It can all be self serving. But I cannot get around the kindness. They all could have done better in life without it. I think it is the love of Christ that ministered most to me and holds me accountable to others.
gao_lu — 2016-11-04T06:20:49-04:00 — #8
As "ministry" pertains to your situation, I don't understand there to be a difference in the definition of "ministry" regardless of a person's workplace. The functions of ministry, or serving can be carried out in an American church house, a jungle of Malaysia or an office in Manhattan. The important thing probably isn't the label or title, but being faithful to engage in ministry wherever God has called us.
mike_henry_sr — 2016-11-04T06:28:53-04:00 — #9
@Dave_L and @Gao_Lu Thanks for the response. I appreciate the clarification.
charles_mcneil — 2016-11-04T13:40:45-04:00 — #10
Mike Henry, Sr.,
In these forums, at CD, you offend no one to ask a question, make statements of facts or opinions, or ask a question or make a statement for clarification. None of these is deemed "picking a fight." You have the greatest of freedom. However, with freedom, there are responsibilities. I am sure, you will conduct yourself accordingly.
With that said, I guess most of us (at least for me) who responded to your initial post had in mind "Full-time Gospel Ministry." That is: One who has been "called" or "appointed" to the exclusive preaching, teaching, and counseling those in the Christian faith. It's full-time responsibility for nurturing those within church, equipping them, to reach those on the "outside" (non-believers in Christ, through the daily life and personal testimonies, to know and see Jesus.
Ministry is to help believers identify their spiritual gifts and have them affirmed within the body of Christ. It is to create an environment that's friendly, inviting and conducive for spiritual growth and fellowship. You are committed to maintaining a ripple effect of advertising (for Christ), inviting, claiming (reclaiming) people ("souls") to know, love, follow, and become a disciple of Jesus, the Christ.
So, ministry, is a calling, a commitment, a dedication of all of your time, talents, gifts, and influences, to Christ for the salvation of humanity, until Jesus returns. In short, it's a dedication-proclamation to Christ, for life. It's being constantly available, opened, and attentive to God's voice and will to reach others, by the Word (Bible) and the working of the Holy Spirit (God).
What you do on your job is called "witnessing." That is , you are being a "Living Epistle" as you provide for your livelihood. It doesn't means you're less called, but there are limitations on the time and what you can do; particularly, while at work. If you are self-employed, like the Apostle Paul (a tentmaker), you will have a little more freedom. If you have a body or an organization that will sustain you (livelihood) then; you can do full-time ministry for Christ. I hope this helps a little more. CM
bill_coley — 2016-11-04T14:05:12-04:00 — #11
From your post, Mike, I assume you are a layperson (I apologize if I have that wrong - though there are days when I'm pretty sure being a layperson is by FAR the better station in church life! ) That assumption operative, I think the specific tasks of ministry that you I complete are different -A greater percentage of my tasks as a pastor are likely to center around the organizational, administrative, and "leadership" aspects of a congregation's ministries, while a greater percentage of your tasks as a layperson are likely to center around the interactions you have at home, at your workplace, if outside the home, in your encounters with the needs of people both local and global - but we both are in ministry.
A Venn diagram of our respective roles would depict lots of overlap, but there would be areas unique to both of us, as well.
Consider Paul's reference to the Corinthians' "ministry of giving" in 2 Corinthians 8.6 and 2 Corinthians 9.13. Paul clearly understood their financial response to the need of the church in Jerusalem to be ministry.
Mike, I believe that whatever you do, however you serve, in whatever form or fashion you contribute to the cause of Christ and his Church in the world, is a form of ministry just as valuable and called out as mine or anyone else's. The details of your ministry are unique to you; but your cause is one we all share.
gao_lu — 2016-11-04T18:47:40-04:00 — #12
Have you read the short classic book *The Practice of the Presence of God? It was written about 300 years ago by the Carmelite monk Brother Lawrence. The main theme of the book is to live in continuous awareness of being in the presence of the awe and glory of Jehovah God. Every act becomes and act of worship. Every thought and motion and act of ministry (serving, whether in church or the market place) can be communion with Jehovah God.
This idea could best be summed up with 1 Cor 10:31:
or free on the internet.
The Greek word in the New Testament most often associated with "ministry" is diakonia. The word basically means "service." Service in the NT includes waiting tables (Acts 6:1), providing for the poor (2 Cor 9:12), or testifying to God's grace (Acts 20:24), Probably most ministry takes place apart from church offices. The work of those in church offices is to prepare all Believes to do ministry. --Eph 4:11
Perhaps the ultimate ministry was that of Christ Philip 2:6-8
Could we then define "ministry" as wholehearted obedience, living to glorfy God, strengthen believers and share the Gospel?
mike_henry_sr — 2016-11-13T07:00:33-05:00 — #13
Sorry for the long delay.
@Charles_McNeil, you stated:
Can this not be done by someone who has a full-time job? Do we give people the message that this type of calling isn't possible simply because we have a job?
@Bill_Coley, I am a layperson, assuming that means someone who doesn't draw a paycheck from a church or para-church organization. I do agree with your definition, above.
However, I feel even among those of us in this thread, our words give a different impression. Often the term for those of us who are not "laypersons" is "minister." For example, when we first started out, we spoke about ministry as being what ministers do.
The work that I do, as an employee of a technology service provider is not ministry. I agree. But the life I live doing that work, or being a husband, father, or member of my community is ministry.
So therefore, @Gao_Lu, I agree with you, and I think we all agree...
I appreciate your insights and sharing. Thank you.
dave_l — 2016-11-13T07:40:07-05:00 — #14
I believe the norm for the early church was part time pastors who worked secular jobs. Even Paul worked as an example for other pastors to follow. It would be difficult for a little house church, independent of denominational-ism to support full time pastors.
Following are a few scriptures that reflect this.
“And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.” (Acts 18:3–4)
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
“I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:33–35)
“For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.” (1 Thessalonians 2:9)