In this day and age of so many ‘ministries’ in different sizes, shapes and styles such as small, big, mega, over-sized, contemporary, traditional etc, It would be fair enough to start a discussion of 'ministry' by looking at what Jesus Himself said about it while He was on the earth.
Disciples asked, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”
Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29)
No way! How can that be true? It is so simple to be true! We don't believe that. We believe that we have a "calling" to 'do', 'go', 'preach' and make disciples. We know about the 'great commission'. What if ‘just believing’ leads to passivity? Don't we know that the 'harvest is plenty but workers are few'? We believe that we have to ‘initiate’ things and start everything with 'prayer' and we ask god to 'help' us to do it. God, this is ‘your’ ministry, bless this!
Jesus said, "Apart from me you can do nothing".
No.... it can't be true. My seminary can't be that wrong! My professor can't be wrong that he taught me to develop my 'leadership skills". Among many of my skills rated, my "leadership skill" came to 10 out 10. I am capable of ‘controlling’ any big congregations. I am really worth doing something. I know Greek. I know Hebrews. I am a scholar. I was taught that we can 'achieve' many things by implementing a "five fold" ministry plan with a ‘5 year vision’ and a ‘mission statement’. I have marketing skills, if not I will hire highly educated marketing executives. I will emphasize the many programs what we have such as childcare, counseling, prayer club, indoor gym, free coffee etc. If I still can’t attract people I will advertise my ministry in ‘Christianity Today’. At any cost I will build, build and build. I will spend sleepless nights thinking how to raise money. I will work 12-16 hours a day and I don’t care if I can’t spend time with my family because I am in an important work called ‘God work’. I am trained to be a ‘Christian professional’. I have been instructed to use the verse from Malachi to put people under the pressure of guilt to bring money to the offering plates. I can do a lot of things ‘apart from Him’ and I am pretty sure that verse doesn’t mean that way in Greek.
Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is within you".
That is a foreign idea. I thought kingdom of God is a ‘field’ where there are many big buildings, auditoriums and usually a big tall building with a cross on top of it. People working diligently to build it and God shows up their on Sunday mornings sometimes even on Wednesdays. The ‘success’ of such kingdom is determined by the headcount of people and the 'quality' of the congregates.
Jesus said, "I will build my church".
No, we don't believe that. He will build His church? Then, what am I here for? I know He said that while He was on the earth; now that He is not here so I have to do the ‘building’. I need a handful of highly educated outstanding professional ministers who can help me doing this. I will start collecting their resumes, offering ‘industry standard’ salaries, medical benefits, yearly performance reviews and promotions.
But I will still ‘own’ the ministry so that my son can 'inherit' all the ‘assets’ in the future when he is old enough and ready.
I think the word "believe" is so commonly used by so many people to mean so many things, that now we don't even believe in "believing". We have come to a point that we don't like the simplicity of Jesus's statement, 'the work of the ministry is believing in me'.
Why are we so boastful in the fact that we have the so called so many skills? Jesus said, "for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Are we ready to put down our education, degrees etc and may be learn something about little children? Children believe in the word "believe". One of the way my daughter used to play with me when she was about 3 years old is that she would jump into my hands from the kitchen counter-top. She enjoyed it so much that she would just keep giggling all the time. Sometimes she would jump even before I get ready to hold her. She had a lot of fun. Though sometimes my hands hurt, I enjoyed it because of the trust she put in me. She trusted the strength of my hands. She didn't have so many "What if" questions such as, "what if I hit the floor?", "what if I slips out my Dad's hands?", "what if my Dad is not ready?". She lived the 'present moment'; she didn't complicate it and her motivation was trust. Can we learn the basic principle of trusting by looking at the little kids?
Many people get into Christian ministry when they are faced with a question posed by many preachers, "What if I will stand in front of God with empty hands"? What if I don't have any rewards?
I personally believe the greatest reward we could ever get is the righteousness of Christ which we already have. I wouldn't imagine someone standing in front of Jesus and brag about the things they did for Him. The life we live is His life. The love we have in our heart is His love. The fruits we bear is produced by Him. So what is there to boast about?
Is it time to put our religious masks down and live a real life in the essence of the New Covenant message (walking by faith)? Are we ready to join Apostle Paul, 'It is no longer I..."?
I don't feel like pledging money to the building fund or the church planting. My heart is somewhere else. I am no more moved by the big crowds, mega churches or even the wide spreading of Christianity. I am interested only in a genuine, real, brutally honest, authentic, practical life of faith people live.
What if the way the gospel to be proclaimed is not by planting churches or by starting ministries?
What if we are not in need of problem solving Christian professionals but people who trust God and simply walk by faith?
What if walking by faith is breaking the norm of all the existing concepts of Christian ministry?
What if the "step of faith" is not about planting a church? But it is simply leaping into the hands of Father where I am going to be safely held and if necessary used by Him? What if I don't have to be a professional in the church industry to do the 'works of God'? How about resting in the fact that , if God wants to accomplish anything through me, he would initiate it in due time and all I need to do is respond. What if the concept of ministry is nothing but living in an attitude that the members of my body is available to God for His purposes. How about taking all the presumptions away and jump into the 'risk' of all sufficiency of Christ?