The Purpose of MinistryDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
What is the purpose of Christian ministry? What is the purpose of your ministry as one of Christ's ministers?
There are many different ways to answer these questions. A pastor might say, "The purpose of my ministry is to win people to Christ and to grow my church." A deacon might say, "The purpose of my ministry is to care for people." A Sunday school teacher might say, "The purpose of my ministry is to help children understand the Bible." A banker might say, "The purpose of my ministry is to be a faithful and just steward of the financial resources entrusted to me." A mother might say, "The purpose of my ministry is to help my children grow up to maturity as Christians and as contributing members of society."
All of these can be fine answers. But they can also miss the larger, deeper purpose of our work as ministers of Jesus Christ. Consider, for example, the purpose statement of Ephesians 4:11-13. This passage begins with Christ giving gifts of pastoral leaders to the church (4:7, 11). These leaders are to equip Christ's people "for works of service" (4:12). Then we have an extensive and complicated purpose statement: "so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (4:12-13).
This passage deserves careful scrutiny, which I hope to provide in future reflections. For today, however, I want to step back and see the wider purpose of Christian ministry. This purpose includes: the building up of the body of Christ, which entails its unity and maturity. Notice that this purpose probably implies the numerical growth of the church, but it does not focus there. Rather, the building up of the body of Christ has to do primarily with its unity and maturity.
We'll investigate further what this means. For now, however, I'd encourage you to think about your own life in relationship to the church as you consider the following questions.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Are your labors contributing to the unity of your church? Are you helping your church become more mature? How does ministry, in the church and in the world, make a difference to the life of your church?
PRAYER: Gracious God, help me to see my ministry to you and to others in your name as you see it. Help me to participate in your redeeming and restoring work. Give me vision to look beyond the tasks at hand so that I might see how they fit into your larger plan. As your Spirit leads, may my labors as your minister contribute to your purpose. May I help your body, including the part of your body that forms my own church, to be growing into unity and maturity. Amen.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge Youth Camp, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.