Ministry Redefined


inistry: Do we define it by numbers and styles, thinking first of pastors and preachers?

Too many of us clergy find security in allowing our congregation to follow the notion that ministry is for us “big guys.” We allow the church to associate ministry with the pulpit, the songs we sing, and the way we pray so eloquently. In other words, we may be guilty of letting the congregation see our glory, and reject the definition that the Holy Spirit gave John:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14 NIV).

Jesus became a clear picture of God’s message in human flesh. Ministry means to portray God’s love in the flesh, revealing His glory. That means I don’t have to be
a clergy “clone.” My ministry is real only when it reveals God’s love and shines His glory on those around me, even if I’m not preaching.

Today, so much of what we define as “ministry” is really entertainment. No lives are changed, no needs are met, and no souls are saved.

On the contrary, I have seen ministry happen in a “Jesus-type” setting. I was in the cab of an 18-wheeler with my friend Jack, who was driving. He explained his burden to take the Lord into today’s troubled society. Tears gave away his heart.

Jack is a minister. Oh, he doesn’t have credentials with any denomination, but I’ve seen him hand out tracts and invite people to church while telling them about Christ’s love. When his neighbor across the street began to become disabled with cancer, Jack was there morning and night to milk the cows and clean up. I’ve watched Jack shovel manure, feed pigs, and lug hay, thereby preaching the Gospel without words.

John 1:14 says Jesus came from the Father with two mighty weapons in His possession: “grace and truth.” If two equalities shine God’s glory instead of our own, they are grace and truth.

Jesus constantly reached out with loving truth. When the religious society spurned certain people, Jesus led them to the throne of grace. By loving them, Christ revolutionized the dark world around Him.

Jack told me, there in the cab of his truck, that he had never won anyone to Christ. For all his witnessing, distributing of tracts, and doing good deeds, he’d never been able to lead anyone to Christ.

At first, I gave him a cliché, “It’s God who grants the increase, Brother.” After a
few moments of silence, though, I began thinking of the times he had encouraged me, his pastor, by praying with me or sharing a testimony that led me to a deeper commitment or more faith.

I turned to my friend and said, “You say you’ve never won someone to Christ, but that isn’t true. All the times you encouraged me as a friend, you were ‘winning’ me to the Lord. I grew from your words, and you led me to a new level of Christ’s lordship in my life.”

As Christians, God gives all of us ministry opportunities—times to reflect God’s glory in our everyday lives. We are dispatched into a dying world with the message of God’s grace and truth. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16 NIV). This is ministry, as defined by God’s Son.