What Is Ministry?

That’s it.

I am curious how you would answer that question. What comes to mind?

(Disclaimer – I don’t have a specific answer in mind. I am interested in hearing a variety of views.)

What is ministry?


29 thoughts on “What Is Ministry?

  1. The first thing that comes to mind is ministry is expanding the Kingdom of God. I do not see those words as equating to evangelism (at least the way most folks understand evangelism). I see it as having to do with God using someone (a minister) to bring his word and his gifts to others. Hmmmm…does this mean I think every Christian person is in some fashion called to be a minister and participate in a God-given ministry?….Yes. Is every Christian aware of and obedient to that call? No.

    Now that I have read the two more succinct comments above…..ditto :)

  2. Being Christ’s obedient servant on earth. Meaning, I am more concerned about doing what He say’s and ministering to Him than anything else… the rest is just the overflow of that. 100% obedience.

  3. Service is definitely the first word that comes to mind . Meeting needs when we see them and listening for that still small voice to set us in the right direction.

  4. I heartily agree with what others have posted.. especially what Ron said.. seems to encapsulate the idea of taking denying self, taking up our cross and following Jesus.

    One thing that I might add is the idea of being moved by compassion. I think that compassion is the cornerstone of ministry. Seeing others with compassionate eyes will often move us to action and sometimes release God’s power.. in us if no place else.

    Good question Grace!

  5. This is a really good question. It seems as though most people are linking service with ministry. Service definitely is a part, but is it the whole? When we think about all that a given congregation does to ‘minister’ to one another, I think it is more than just service. Unless my definition of service is more narrow than other people’s.

    Wikipedia defines Christian ministry, which I assume is what we are talking about, as “activity by Christians to spread or express their faith” You can find the whole article here. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_ministry_%28Christian%29 )

    I think this is a great definition because it includes things like evangelism and discipleship, things we would not normally link to service, as well as the services that we provide to one another and others in the name of Christ to express our faith. It also includes things that we formally name as ‘ministries’ without taming the idea of service.

    So, Christian ministry is an activity carried out by Christians to spread or express their faith.

  6. I like all I’ve read so far, but the one that resonates most with me right now is rebuildingruins:

    “Being Christ’s obedient servant on earth. Meaning, I am more concerned about doing what He say’s and ministering to Him than anything else… the rest is just the overflow of that. 100% obedience.”

    Firstly, I believe that “ministry” and “service” are etymologically related. “Ministry” is related to “minus”, or in other words “being less than”. For me, the concept is fundamentally linked to service – and even more fundamentally, service and obedience to *God*. This is how Pastor Chad’s objection works out for me: service to God means serving my neighbor in all ways that are obedient to God – physical, emotional, spiritual (as Ron said) – and so would include evangelism, formation, pastoral care, etc.

    But further – I think rebuildingruins’ statement that it’s about *being* a servant – about a visceral identity shift into someone for whom the state of obedient service (or “slavery”) is core to one’s identity – is key. Lots of people – Christian and non-Christian – want to serve God and neighbor. Part-time. When we can. Whenever we can fit it in. Evangelism, really, is about *conversion* – turning a garden-variety selfish git like me into someone who truly *wants* to be a full-time slave, servant, minister – by which I definitely *don’t* mean “getting a paid ministry job” – and who has enough community support to journey along and learn how to be the minister God is calling them to be. Unfortunately, we usually don’t look at it that way.

    Final disclaimer – in all this talk of “obedience”, I’m *totally* talking about obedience to Christ, not any self-important talking monkey you might care to name. And I’m aware that obedience to Christ requires careful and continuous discernment, which is hard as hell.

  7. Ministry is an organized ‘master plan’ program that demands all of those who are participating to cooperate with the authority or authorities who developed the program to see the desired results produced.

    Come on people, let’s stay inside of the lines here!

  8. Why do I bristle at the word so much?

    Ministry is somehow linked in my mind to “something I (person of great faith and importance) do for you (oh lowly peon) and you should therefore be grateful for it and pay me the big bucks.”

    I don’t even want to use the word.

  9. There are some beautiful comments here. I think it is about both the content of the action, and the spirit of it. Gifts and fruit (or attitude), if you will.

    Etymologically, of course in the Greek ‘ministry’ and ‘service’ are related. The link shouldn’t be broken, no matter how hard we might try sometimes. That encapsulates the spirit or attitude of ministry.

    The content seems to have a whole range of applications in the NT. And surely all the lists of gifts and offices in the NT are just examples, rather than restrictively limiting lists.

    I have a discomfort with the word which is the same as that with the word ‘priest’. Protestant Reformers objected to the Catholic use of priest, because every disciple is a priest. But using the word ‘minister’ for those whom the church ordains is equally wrong. Every disciple is also a minister, since we are all given gifts with which to serve. (And no, ‘pastor’ won’t do, either, since it limits the range of acceptable ‘ministries’ in the church.)

    I write this as one who has been ordained by the church. If I do see an advantage to the word in its official/traditional use, it’s the reminder of the need for humility, and definitely not the attitude that I have to devise a programme for everyone to follow, and that people should bow down to me. (The ‘big bucks’ thing doesn’t apply in my tradition, BTW!)

  10. Awesome question! I understand “ministry” to be celebrating the redemption we experience with God, ourself, His kingdom community, and with those who don’t know it yet – by inviting them into it. It’s a life of celebration… one that sings praise in prison, reconciles the disconnected, makes sense of the chaos, loves with Christ’s love. Ministry is life itself… even as worship is life. It is as ever-increasing in depth and breadth as our ever-growing life with Christ! It’s participating in the team as family members with a mission. What a ride!

  11. Grace- if you would have asked me a few years ago I would have had a different answer. The word does make me cringe a little because it use to mean endless hours at church. Now, it means making a lunch for my sons friend who forgot one, or painting an old mans house, or smiling at the cashier who is really rude.

    Jeff- LOL!

  12. This is a bit broader than ministry, but: Philippians 3:12 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

    Let me emphasize:
    “…to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

  13. Some have already touched on my answer, but I might articulate it a little differently. We ARE a ministry. I don’t see ‘ministry’ as something I do. I believe it has to do with just being who we are in God. As we minister to Him through living a life of worship (manifested in continually surrendering to His rule at deeper and deeper levels), then He flows through us and ministers to others. I see it as a natural part of life in God – an overflow that happens naturally and organically wherever we are. Like when you were at the dentist. I believe that just being who you are in God was powerful and put that woman at ease to share her thoughts openly and that experience ministered to her – without you even saying a word.

    And I think that this perspective of ‘ministry’ can really set us free because it will have such diverse expressions. Some are called to be ‘ministers’ in business, education, health care, politics, parenting, neighboring, etc. Just being obedient to the Lord and being who He’s created us to be, living where he’s placed us occupationally and geographically (not having to look like someone else, not having to be a missionary or a pastor or an itinerant speaker to be considered a ‘minister’).

  14. I think ministry is anything that publicly gives God glory. It might be community or spiritual service, but it can also be career-related or friendship-related.

    I recently went to an instructor to learn more about the proper and responsible use of legal firearms, and was amazed to find out that in the process of teaching people how to shoot a gun, he was sharing the love of Christ with them. In particular, he had helped a number of women who’d been traumatized by criminal activity in the inner city and felt that they needed to have a gun to feel safe. Well, he knew that they needed to have Jesus to really feel safe — a gun may protect your person but it won’t protect your soul.

    I hope that in everything I do in life, I can be doing ministry. Jesus didn’t put God in a box, and neither should I.

  15. WHAT IS MINISTRY? It is forwarding the action down here. Non-denomenational FORWARDING.
    Sometimes you’ll get hooked into a special interest, noisy activism, organic gardening, raising babies, children too, or counseling couples, frugal lifestyle training as a kind of Recession tech….but all of it forwards the action. If one has a ‘neat’ church shepherding people into it to create a conscious community is also a good kind of action.

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