How can I serve?
Some young adults from my local church recently approached me, expressing interest in ministry involvement and wondering if there were any areas of ministry in which they could get involved. My initial reaction was, “I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, but I will keep you in mind.” What does this reveal about how I view and understand ministry? Essentially, I reduced ministry and service down to being a specific task or job that a person could fill…and since there were no “open jobs” in the church, then no opportunities for ministry existed. I could have just said, “I’m so sorry, college-age student. Just wait until someone retires or dies. I’ll call you then.”
Not long after this happened I began reading The Trellis and The Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne. I found myself saying “amen” and nodding my head in agreement often. I have also felt convicted as well. The authors spend much time arguing that every Christian must be involved in gospel proclamation. Therefore, thinking of ministry as “jobs” is not very helpful. My friend Tyler said, “if a ministry is a set of jobs, then the ministry’s needs are met when all the positions are filled.” Thinking of ministry primarily as specific jobs and tasks often emphasizes roles that are not always specifically related to the gospel. No offense to you nursery workers, door greeters, and ushers, but one doesn’t even have to be a Christian to do these jobs well.
How could I have responded to these young adults? Well, rather than thinking of specific jobs in the church I could have said, “See that guy over there? He is a new believer, it would be great if you began meeting with him regularly and read the Bible together.” or “Can you think of one person in your class or dorm that you could spend more time with and look for opportunities to share the gospel?”
When we emphasize these kinds of things, we emphasize ministry that is directly related to the gospel. Of course, I hope our church sees new, younger ushers and door greeters; I think this helps and encourages our church. However, I hope many more will spend the majority of their ministry energy one to one discussions and in small groups in gospel-centered, disciple-making relationships.