Ministry is not only a pastor thing.
In fact, it’s not only an evangelist thing. Or a teacher thing. Or a prophet thing. Or an apostle thing. It’s an everybody thing.
The roles listed above exist for a two-fold important purpose according to Paul in Ephesians 4:
“12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…“
I firmly believe, as Paul and the 12 disciples believed, that every member of the Body of Christ (that is, Christians – the members of the church) has a purpose and a calling on their lives. Each one is equipped, by God no-less, in a way that no other person within the body is equipped. And yet, those gifts compliment the gifting of every other member of the body in perfect unity and harmony when working properly.
Many have bought into the idea that you aren’t truly doing ministry if you don’t hold the title of pastor, teacher, prophet, evangelist, or apostle. This is often perpetuated when people are feeling a calling on their lives and they seek out counsel and they are asked to define that calling within he confines of (usually) the role of a pastor (music pastor? youth pastor? senior pastor? etc.)
How do I know? It happened to me.
Back in college (in 2001), I felt a calling on my life, but I didn’t understand it. When I sought out counsel I was very literally asked, “What do you think it is? Youth work? Children’s work? Music? Senior pastor? Missionary?” It was as if there was a finite list of options that I had to choose from. Didn’t matter if none of them really resonated with my spirit. This was the list, now choose.
So, I chose to become a youth pastor. And later on, a music pastor as well.
Somehow, along the way, all of the gifts of the Spirit have been narrowed down to a singular gift which leaves a gaping hole in the Body of Christ. This leaves the Church looking lopsided, anemic, and causes the Church to become focused on accomplishing the work of a single ministry rather than equipping everyone to serve in their very specific place of ministry.
I believe there are many people within the Church who are simply looking for permission to do what God has already called them to do and are simply looking for guidance, equipment, counsel, accountability, and more.
They are looking for the exact thing Paul describes in Ephesians 4.
Unfortunately, they are often met with responses from church leaders that look something like this, “Well, that’s awesome! Unfortunately, it doesn’t fit with the overall vision of our church. But, we wish you well in your endeavors.”
I have heard this countless times with my own ears. Not directed at me, but with me sitting in the room and it being directed at someone else who had approached church leadership about a calling on their lives.
This should not be.
Pastor, church leader, whoever you are saying this…I don’t mean this to be rude when I say it…but, stop it. Please. We (yes we) can do better! Go back and read Ephesians 4, and then listen to these people again. Use wisdom and discernment. Listen to the Holy Spirit speak to your spirit and provide wise and helpful counsel and guidance to the Body of Christ looking for purpose and meaning.
Don’t just shove them away because it doesn’t line up with your vision of what you think your church should be doing. The Kingdom of God exists for more than just you or your local church gathering.
Despite popular belief, the church body doesn’t exist to simply fund or provide volunteers for a singular ministry of a local church organization or pastor. That isn’t to say that paying church staff/pastors or having ministries for a local church manned by members of the church are bad in-and-of themselves. It just means this isn’t the only thing God is up to.
If we really want healthy, effective, world shaking churches, we need to start examining what the church and its leadership actually exists for, and find ways to encourage and equip believers for the specific calling of their lives.
So many are chomping at the bit to activate and be sent and are waiting for permission to do the very thing God is calling them to do.
Don’t be the one person standing in the way of that.
Now, can you think of someone who needs permission to go?