Monday, July 21, 2014
Can You Answer This Question?
This common way of speaking is not supported in Scripture, however. For example, let's look closely at Ephesians 4:11-12. In this passage, we have clear identification of the kinds of people we would call ministers: apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers. But are they the ministers? Are they the ones who do the ministry of Christ?This is so right and yet so abused. So often we tell people they are fulfilling their ministry by inviting their neighbor to church. It's not that numerical growth in church is a bad thing - it's that such serves to narrow the vision for what constitutes ministry and to reinforce the understanding that any ministry other than invites belongs to the professionals.
No, not according to this passage. The NIV translation says that these leaders are "to equip his [Christ's] people for works of service" (4:12). That's a reasonable paraphrase, but it can blunt the sharp edge of the original language. A more literal translation is found in the ESV and the classic RSV, where it says that the leaders are "to equip the saints for the work of ministry."
Thus, according to Ephesians 4:11-2, the leaders of the church are to equip the saints (all of Christ's people) for ministry. The leaders are not the primary ministers. Rather, the ministers are the people of God, who have been drafted into God's ministry, and who are to be equipped for their ministry by the leaders. When we call these leaders "ministers" or when we say that they have gone into "the ministry," we run the risk of obscuring the fact that, according to Scripture, all Christians are ministers ... including you.
I am increasingly running into professionals that jealously guard their territory. When an able volunteer comes forward they are squelched because the staff member has a job to protect. I understand volunteers are hard to control, often unreliable and sometimes not very good. But I wonder...
...Do we really need to control things that tightly?
...Are we relying on God if we are worried about the reliability of the volunteers?
...What matters more - the development of the volunteer or the quality of the program?
...Why can't we "make" volunteers that do not have these problems?
church ministry professionals