The Bible says I’ve been gifted by the Triune God for the purpose of serving in the church to edify and strengthen the church (Ephesians 4:7-16). AWESOME, everyone is a minister!!! Great . . . okay, let’s go minister some love . . .
I feel like I’ve seen this and experienced this before. Excitement over God’s unique calling to me to do something in the church. And it’s not just something, it’s “ministry.” Okay, so what am I being asked to do . . . you know, what is ministry?
Well, I’m in banking so obviously I should talk to the church about being involved in finances right? I’m a police officer, I should probably do security. I’m a teacher, I should teach. This tends to be our line of thinking. The problem here lies in the reality that a profession does not equal our gift. It could, but not a slam dunk. First of all, it could be a school teacher is unqualified to be a teacher in the church (Titus 1, 1 Timothy 3). Maybe your church doesn’t need a detailed security team?
No matter what a person’s profession and church situation, this idea misdefines ministry and our spiritual gift. The gift is after all spiritual. (Not to take away anything from accountants or other “administrative” functions in the church — YES WE NEED YOU). But even an accountant has a spiritual ministry and requirements to the church body.
The Greek word, διακονίας, means service, just as the NASB translates it. The basic idea is serving. Now, helping the church run her books is service, but it does not necessarily edify the body spiritually. It does protect the church so she can operate, but it does not pointedly serve and edify individuals.
To edify individuals there must be relationships with other people in the church. In fact, I think Scripture teaches us that ministry is the “one anothers.”
- “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Phil 2:3).
- “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you” (John 13:14-15).
- “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:12-13).
- “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).
In these four texts, there are simple commands: regard, wash, encourage, and love. All of these call believers to action. The Lord directs our actions towards other people. Most of these are in the context of the local church telling us how we’re to treat other people in our church. Each of these unpacks and explains how we minister to the church body.
Consider Hebrews 3:12-13: because of sin, I need to encourage (and have other people encourage me) so that we do not become deceived in our thinking. Our hearts govern our actions. They are corrupt (Jer. 17:9) and will lead us in unrighteousness. We should not listen to our hearts. Yet left alone, that is precisely what we will do (Prov 18:1). So we need the church body.
In order for this to happen, it means I must actually know people in the church. I have to know them well enough, in fact, to know when he or she is being deceived and how to encourage this person. This also means I have to know God’s will so that my counsel will actually provide benefit. So the responsibilities on our shoulders, at minimum, include knowing people and God’s will.
“That’s a lot of work!” Yes, but it’s good work and it’s work we’ve been redesigned to do when God regenerated us. The one another’s are ministry. God holds us accountable to all of them. Take time to learn them. Learn how each one looks. Learn God and then manifest His Word in action (Heb 5:14). Only when we act, will we truly grow in our convictions. Make a plan to serve. Don’t know people? Have them over for dinner, lunch, brunch, park – play date, or whatever. Too busy? Say no to something else. Our kids really don’t have to play softball year round . . .it’s true they don’t, they’ll live. 🙂
So what’s our ministry? The first, and most important ministry is the one another’s. In fact, before you’re the church accountant, you’re a part of the body with responsibilities to one another. Think of this as your first priority to the church. Then if you have time and can faithfully minister to others take on another responsibility. But do not neglect body life because chairs need to be set up.