When I started my Christian ministry training it was quite hard to explain to my family and friends what I was doing. To be honest, not many people know what I actually do except my frequent jibber jabbering here. And honestly, I would hate it for my identity in Christ to be reduced to a title.
But in my mind I expected I would do an apprenticeship then maybe get some formal theological training and like everyone else get some proper job. Say something people acknowledge and respect like a pastor maybe even a bishop, college professor or some title of some sort. Because in our world training equals getting a job and some title.
There’s only one title and it’s taken
But I was deeply challenged when I realised there are no titles in Christian ministry. If you like it, there’s only one title for our Lord and Saviour and then there’s all of us his servants. He is the head and we are the body as we see in Ephesians 1:
22 …God placed all things under his (Jesus) feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
We have no titles only opportunities and gifts for service.
Problem is though most Christians are happy to accept that they still believe there’s a fundamental distinction between the man who stands in front and those who sit listening to them. Which is not surprising because in our world those who stand on the stage are the real heroes and the audience better listen to them. The show is on them as the rest of us spectate. But it’s not the case in Biblical Christianity.
Yes, there are responsibilities in the church according to God-given gifts, opportunities and training but they are all for the sake of the one master, King Jesus, and for the benefit of his body, the church. The pastor is no different from anyone else as long as it involves building God’s church. And the pastor is not doing more ministry than the man in the back row if they are a Christian.
A ministry for all
In the Bible, we see that God is building his church by his Spirit as a whole and he achieves this through his Word. It tells us that God is working in us, Christians, not just the man in front to build his church. And the church as a body is responsible for ministry as we hear and speak God’s Word to one another. We see this clearly in Ephesians 4:
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4.
I used to think that the pastor, “the Minister”, is responsible for the ministry and everyone else comes to receive or support them in this. But that’s not how the Bible sees Christian ministry, not it’s how the world works not God. It’s a man-made dichotomy and bureaucracy that no longer exists in the redeemed community of God’s people.
Those in the teaching ministry are not the bosses and everyone else a slave. They are but mere servants given the responsibility of equipping the church with the Word for the noble job that every Christian share in, building God’s church to maturity.
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.
The Bible teacher or preacher whichever title they go by are like the man who mixes the concrete for others to do the building work. Their gifts and training are important and a blessing to the church but don’t make them the big dogs as is the case in the world. Rather they equip others with God’s Word and they join the church in building the body.
Get ready for your ministry job
This should be very liberating for preachers. Can you believe how hard a task it would be if you had to do all the ministry while everyone else cruises for the rest of their Christian life? It’s also very reassuring as all we need to do is make sure to equip people with God’s Word and then join them in building the body by speaking this truth to each other.
It’s great news for every member of the body as there are countless opportunities and possibilities to do ministry at work, at home and at the church gathering as long as we are equipped with God’s Word. You are the minister at home, at the office and at your friend’s party. And for this reason you should get as much training as you can from God’s Word.
It means we don’t go to the church gathering as we do a show, rather we go with our sleeves rolled up set for some building work. And we don’t need to wait until the pastor comes to speak to a colleague at work or our struggling neighbour. No, as long as we have God’s Word then we are fully equipped for all the opportunities God has laid in front of us to do Gospel ministry.
What a joy that the God of the universe would entrust us all with his most precious work, the job of his Son, the ministry of reconciliation. How amazing that all of us, Christians, regardless of titles have the one job that has lasting significance. For we all share in the ministry of our Lord and Saviour:
…And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5.