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Every Christian is a minister

October 30, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

For the next couple of months, I’ll be sharing my reflections on the book The Kingdom Unleashed, written by Jerry Trousdale and Glenn Sunshine, in the hopes of expanding our view of what God is up to in the world and how we can learn from it here in America.  

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13)

In chapter 4 of his letter to the Ephesian church, Paul explains that God raises up certain people to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Their role, however, is not to be the trained professionals who do all of the ministry work. Rather, their primary role is, according to verse 12-13, “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” God’s vision for the church, in other words, is that every member would be a minister, using the gifts God has given them to serve each other, love their neighbor, and to build up the church.

In chapter 4 of The Kingdom Unleashed, Trousdale and Sunshine talk about how one of the main reasons the church is growing exponentially in the Global South while it has stagnated in the Global North is that we in the Global North are more likely to equate ministry with someone who is a professional minister or a seminary-trained person. This is most evident in the Catholic Church, where priests do the work of ministry – administer the sacraments, lead the Mass, lead the wedding, funerals, etc. – while the laypeople show up to receive the ministry for an hour every Sunday. However, the mindset can also find its way into the Protestant church, where many churches hire people to specialize in different aspects of ministry – preaching, administrative, youth, children, men’s, women’s – while the laypeople see themselves as consumers, shopping around for a church that best meets their needs.

That is not God’s vision for His church, however. Remember that before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told his disciples that they would be his witnesses, which would include making disciples, baptizing people, and teaching them to obey everything that He had commanded (Matthew 28:18-20). And as the disciples went out to start churches and make disciples, they coached and mentored men and women to identify their gifts and ministries and then to carry them out in service to others.

The reality is that God has never stopped using “ordinary” men and women to do His work. You do not need to be seminary trained to teach Sunday School, lead a community group, serve in a ministry, or love your neighbor. You just need to be obedient to God, using the gifts He has given you to serve your brothers and sisters. Despite our country’s preoccupation with celebrity and status, God does not tend to primarily work through mega-talented pastors who do all the work. Rather, He works through a body of men and women who are willing to obey God wherever He leads, including fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20.

Where is God calling you to obey Him today? And do you believe that His Holy Spirit that lives within you is more than enough to get the job done?

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