Defining Ministry

In today’s world, we think of ministry as a sort of professional occupation; so and so has a “ministry” or so and so is a “minister”. A “ministry” must be some kind of an organization with offices, budgets and employees or volunteers. It must be headed up by a professional minister; the boss, the big cheese…

Jesus had an earthly ministry for 3 ½ years; we read all about it in the Gospels. Do you recall His office address? Was He some kind of professional “bigwig”?


Since Jesus is our model, maybe we should ask ourselves if there is a difference between His “ministry” and the modern concept we are all familiar with. Jesus told us more than once that He was here to do His Father’s will; we know that He had a great purpose which was to glorify his Father by accomplishing His Father’s purpose on the cross. Just looking at these few words, familiar to all of us, we can see that the ministry of Jesus was to serve His Father’s will and purpose; how did He do this?  In all that He said and did, Jesus served His Father by serving people in a way that achieved the Father’s will: Jesus was God’s servant in addition to being God’s Son.

We shouldn’t be surprised by this, since our words “minister” and “ministry” come from a Greek word meaning “servant”. Thus, a minister is a servant and a ministry is a service. What purpose does this service fulfill? It fulfills God’s purpose, which is to raise up ministers (servants) of God. Jesus put it this way:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

Simply stated, a disciple is one who knows what the Master knows and who does what the Master does. Our Master is Jesus Christ, and we know what He taught His disciples from the Gospel accounts, and from the truths revealed to us in Scripture. What did Jesus do? He served God by serving others in a way that accomplished God’s purpose, which was to establish His Kingdom on the earth. What do we do? We serve God by serving others in a way that achieves God’s purpose which is the building up of His Kingdom by making disciples of Jesus Christ.

This may take many forms as He leads us forward, but it always comes back to serving God by serving others, and what greater service is there to God than building His Kingdom by making disciples? What greater service is there to another human being than to lead them from darkness into light and building them up into the Kingdom of our Lord? In fact, this is the greatest act of love that there is, and it is what Biblical ministry is all about.

3 thoughts on “Defining Ministry

  1. Don, this post is fantastic! I have had these same thoughts for a long time. Why do we have to have a “ministry” for everything? Aren’t our lives walking ministries? I think it also hinders development in us as Christians some time to say, I am going to wait until I have “time” for this or that. I have also seen so many churches which pressure or guilt their congregants into joining various ministries. You are on the money with this one!

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