What is “ministry”? Our church has often had sermons about us, as a congregation and as individuals in the church, to find a need and fill it, do what God is calling us to do, use our talents and gifts to serve. But in my mind keeps turning — what exactly is ministry — what are it’s parameters, borders, variations, distinctions? So, I looked it up. diakonioa (greek):
- of those who by the command of God proclaim and promote religion among men -of the office of Moses – of the office of the apostles and its administration – of the office of prophets, evangelists, elders etc.
- service, ministering, esp. of those who execute the commands of others the ministration of those who render to others the offices of Christian affection esp. those who help meet need by either collecting or distributing of charities
Sonya and I have been laboring over what ministry we have, and if to what degree we can minister, given our priorities (being available for our family — for growth, health, etc). By the definition it seems that ministry is not purely a church related function. Nor is it a purely non-profit, external organization (although that is obviously incorporated).
Hierarchically, there are those who minister in a “full-time” role (offices – apostles, administration, prophets, evangelists, etc), and those that minister in “part-time” role (rendering affection to those who need). This in no way describes the function, or what one does when ministering. The first roles, the full time, are more self evident. Pastors, ministers, evangelists, missionaries, elders, deacons, all fill specific, appointed roles. The gray area comes into play with rendering affection. What is rendering affection? Who is in need? How does one minister in that capacity; is it appointed through the church, or Holy Spirit, is it a full time role, does it gain status, is it done everyday in various ways or occasionally, can one minister through giving money and financial support?
I believe most of us minister through all those methods at one point or another in our lives. Some full time, some temporarily (teaching Sunday School), some periodically (i.e., volunteering at soup kitchens on Christmas Eve). What comes to play in our family is how can both of us fulfill any ministry and not neglect our responsibility and demanded role of parent? Do we both need to be involved in a weekly ministry through our church, or even ministry through an outside organization? Are we failing God and unfaithful (or less “Christian”) by not being involved?
I see it as our duty first to raise a family (especially at their age) to live their faith, experience and taught through us under the guidance of Christ. What example would we give our kids for us to tell them they are valuable and important, yet at the same time be gone nearly every evening volunteering for this or that event, charity, issue, mission, committee; finding time for others but never have the time for them? Our kids are in need of us, in affection, care, time, etc. Parenting in and of itself is a ministry; yet it seems it is vastly insufficient to raise a well-adjusted family when you are doing something “visible” for your church or community. How well does it do the community to be there helping, so that in the future your children might not only learn that they are less important than others, but possibly even resent (or hate) the church and the time it took away from them in growing up?
To be sure that’s not always the outcome — but one role must be supreme above others. And the tendering of care and affection for children will not alway be at such a “level of time”, it is short term (temporary) — which in this current climate is all but forgotten; things are immediate, what have you done lately, there is no future only now, short-sightedness. So, to any parent who may read this, you are doing a ministry just in being a full time, attentive, thoughtful, intended parent. Don’t subtract from your kids what you feel guilty in not giving to your church, there will be a time soon enough when time will free more (as your kids are less dependent on you) when you can find your place to fill more needs and purposes in ministry.