Friday, August 05, 2011
Yeah, What Is It?
Ministry (diakonia) is service. Who determines what is service? The one being served. God calls, we serve. ANYTHING done in service to God is ministry. Here is how I see it.I want to take this one step farther. When we collapse "ministry," to borrow his phrase, we not only limit the definition of ministry to something less than God intended, we make the church into an idol. The church serves God, but it is not God. The church is God's instrument to speak to the current world, but it is not a priestly instrument - it is not the sole means by which God can be accessed. When we claim such, we claim for ourselves, or our churches much more authority than it has been granted.
The church tends to collapse “ministry” into activities that correspond directly with Christian vocation. Some will say they left the corporate world to enter “full-time ministry.” Acts of preaching and evangelism (Evangelical world) and acts of social justice (Mainline world) are seen as “ministry.” Daily life is merely a platform for executing acts of “ministry” as directed by ecclesial professionals. Daily work unrelated to these ends has no intrinsic value (though they may have a derivative value in providing incomes that generate offerings that allow for the continuation of “ministry.”)
To be clear here, we ARE all called to redemptive works of evangelism and justice. But the work in our daily lives is ministry every bit as much as redemptive work is. I’m rejecting a dichotomy in favor of an inextricable intertwining. Ministry is ANY work done in response to God’s call.
I worry little about idols of gold. They are readily identified. I worry much about idols that are God-shaped. Idols that we can easily claim are in God's service.
This is the reason I read The Screwtape Letters regularly.