The Members of the Church do the Work of the Ministry
1 Peter 4:7–11; Romans 12:4–8; 1 Corinthians 12:27–31; Ephesians 2:8–10; 4:11–16
As the modern proverb attests, it is common for 20% of the church to do 80% of the work. In addition to this, the Church is deathly ill from the concept of professional-Christianity, where very few so-called professionals are paid to do the bulk of the work of the ministry. We believe that these realities are not biblical and that they grieve Jesus, the Head of the Church.
Ephesians 4:11–16 states that leaders in the church are to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ…”. Christ’s vision for His Church is that 100% of the church is to do 100% of the work. In other words, every Christian is expected to make an appropriate contribution to the work of the ministry. The elders equip the church for this by teaching the Scriptures and by organizing the church appropriately for ministry. Likewise, deacons mobilize the church to care for one another. The goal, therefore, is that each member is actively contributing to the life of the church according to measure of the gift of grace that Christ has entrusted to him or her.
To this end, the elders create ministry teams and appoint ministry stewards to coordinate each team. By setting clear mandates, giving appropriate budgets, and entrusting particular stewards, the elders empower the congregation to do the work of the ministry. In this, the elders guard themselves against micro-managing the affairs of each ministry team. Though the elders receive regular updates, each team is expected and empowered to make decisions and to take initiative, so long as the ministry team is operating within the given mandate and budget.
Of course, not every aspect of church life can or should be programmed. In addition to organized ministry teams, less formal contributions that are in keeping with the teaching of the church are encouraged. We have identified eight essential ministries, many of which cannot be programmed:
Preaching - Reading and explaining the Word of God in order to reveal Jesus Christ.
Discipleship - Training men, women, and children to know and obey the commands of Jesus Christ.
Servanthood - Imitating Jesus Christ by seeking to meet the needs of others before one’s own needs.
Hospitality - Using one’s home for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Fellowship - Sharing ourselves, our time, and our possessions with all who are committed to Jesus Christ.
Evangelism - Declaring that reconciliation between God and humanity is possible by grace through faith in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Justice - Helping vulnerable victims of injustice and sin on behalf of Jesus Christ.
Song & Prayer - Expressing one’s self to God through the mediation of Jesus Christ by music, speech, or thought.
In sum, our goal is for every member of the Body of Christ to make a real contribution to the life of the church. Some of these contributions are easily organized through ministry teams. Other contributions cannot be programmed and, thus, they flow from the teaching of the Scriptures and the sanctified life of the church.