Ministry…some Christians foolishly think ‘That’s only the minister’ but 2 Corinthians 3:6 states we’re all ministers – competent servants!
It was great to catch up recently with dearest ‘old friends’ Hans and Ellie Rutgrink, who almost 40 years ago faithfully assisted us in planting/establishing a new church.
This was immediately after our Bible college days and we will never forget Hans’ joyous melodic phone call: ‘Hallooo, friends. We’re coming to join you…’
With their commitment, our church grew as we concentrated on teaching Bible truths, avoided time-demanding programs, and relied on the Spirit’s anointing to build the church by building people, Ephesians 4:11ff style.
The principle of ‘body ministry’ soon became an active reality – the Rutgrinks had an inbuilt sense to reach out caringly to church folk and visitors with prayer and genuine Dutch hospitality invites to lunch after church.
Together we encouraged everyone to believe they too could share the ministry of caring for one another. We released responsible, willing couples (without their having to complete programs/testings) to regularly visit/minister/pray with others. What churches would be calling ‘pastoral care’ operated not only by us but by our people themselves.
Body ministry responsibility
And now, having moved on into new ministry seasons, we four caught up.
But the chinwagging was not over good old times, rather concerning issues in this age of ‘expensive megachurches, jet-setting ministries, so-called apostolic networks’ and some alert churchgoers aware something precious is missing.
Our thoughts centred on the reality of today’s need for meaningful ‘body ministry’ between church members. Paul’s directional Ephesians 4 teaching re leadership and members’ responsibilities immediately came to mind –
- Leadership building effective Christians for ministry (verse 11).
- Equipped Christians fulfilling that ministry, not just church leaders (verse 12).
The Message Bible states Jesus ‘handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church.’
No church should expect a wrongly pressured pastor carries the load alone. Nor should a top heavy church expect its leadership to do all the ministry!
Rather a healthy, balanced church has active ‘body ministry’ …
- Ordinary people, inspired by trusting leaders, sharing the ministry load and ministering to the body in extraordinary ways (ie each Spirit anointed member lovingly caring for various members).
- This overall body (leaders and adherents) reaching out beyond church walls to the unsaved on every God-given opportunity in everyday life as Jesus did (such as the John 4 woman at the well, who then became the first hometown evangelist!).
Ordinary people moving in extraordinary ways delight God
This is one reason Jesus empowered Christians with the Holy Spirit. Next month, May 15, many churches will celebrate Pentecost Sunday recalling Acts 2 when the Spirit first fell on the church as Jesus had promised (Luke 24:49).
Acts 2 records that 120 followers out of 500 people who had seen the risen Christ (1 Cor. 15:6) were waiting in the upper room expecting something to happen (obedient to Jesus’ command to ‘stay in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.’)
Their key was that ‘they were all with one accord’ (Acts 2:1). One accord – homothumadon – to be unanimous in purpose and desire.
Obviously they were! And the Spirit came with amazing signs that not only enabled them to worship God in new languages but empowered them to immediately hit the streets in evangelism! Result: 3000 converts to Christianity, Jesus’ promised signs and wonders followed them, and the church grew daily!
Further, one of the most extraordinary results as the new church grew in Jesus’ John 15:17 commandment to love one another is recorded in Acts 2:44-45, ‘All the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.’
This was the body ministering uniquely to the body! Each member used spiritual gifts, natural talents and resources, caringly demonstrating genuine agape love. Thus the equipped body – everyone, not just church leadership – blessed the local family of God.
Further they reached out beyond themselves and meaningfully spread the good news in ways that James 1:27 Mge emphasises: ‘Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight.’
Something missing today?
Ring a bell? Some leaders are afraid to encouragingly release ‘ordinary people’ to do the work of the ministry among the body.
All things must be done orderly and guardedly, of course, but churches need to return to the meaningful reality of the body ministering to the body.
Often leaders talk about church doctrine… ‘doctrine’ indicates ‘teaching.’ Body ministry is an area that should be taught, encouraging ‘the all’ mentioned above to be willingly active in ‘get real’ church life.
We can all minister to one another and help grow the church.
(Scripture emphases ours)