A divinely called and scripturally ordained ministry has been provided by our Lord for the threefold purpose of leading the Church in evangelization of the world, worship of God, and building a body of saints being perfected in the image of His Son. (Statement of Fundamental Truths of the Assemblies of God)
I have talked to people who viewed the ministry like any other profession. In their opinion one looked at one’s career options, considered the pros and cons of each, thought about the working conditions, and a person’s own temperament and personality and chose to become a pastor or evangelist or youth minister like one would choose to be a teacher or a plumber or lawyer.
I come from a family steeped in ministry. My grandfather on my father’s side and my grandmother on my mother’s side and my own mother before she got married were all “full-time ministers” (I hesitate to use that term since we all are called to be about the Lord’s business no matter where we are or how we earn our living, but you understand what I mean.) This is not to mention the uncles and aunts and cousins who have been ordained ministers.
There is one thing I know about the ministry from this being a part of my heritage is that it is not “just another career.” You do not choose the ministry. Rather God chooses you for the ministry. You must be called or all the commitment, Bible college education and training in the world will not make you one of God’s ministers.
A key element of this statement of fundamental truth is that ministers are “divinely called and scripturally ordained.” Certainly, each Christian is called to serve God and each other in ways God has ordained for them to do. In that regard we are all “ministers” or servants of the Most High God. But there are those that God calls out to provide leadership in the church for the work of the ministry of the church. Their primary calling in life, regardless of how they make a living, is to shepherd a flock, teach the Bible, evangelize the lost, or preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, encouraging and exhorting both saint and sinner alike.
These men and women that God calls have a threefold ministry. Some are used of God in one area more than the other two, but most are used in all three at one time or another. Let’s look at each.
The main purpose of the church needs to be to reach a lost and dying world with the saving message of Jesus Christ. Every minister of the gospel, whether they teach in a Bible school, pastor a church, or travel as an evangelist knows that this is the main purpose of ministry.
Some ministers will be called especially to evangelism. They will travel to a location, preach the gospel, win souls to Christ and move on. Others will be called to pastor a congregation and in addition to providing for the needs of the Christians in the congregation will also seek ways to win the lost directly through the efforts of the local church. Others will equip the saints to be an effective witness in their own world. They teach, counsel and encourage others to reach people that the church programs will never reach. This, too, fulfills the great commission through God’s chosen servants.
God created us to worship Him. We are only truly fulfilled as a creation when we do that. But we all know that living in a fallen world, worship can get lost in the day to day struggle to make a living, raise a family, take care of a home and do the thousand trivial, but unavoidable, tasks of daily living. We need people to call us back to our highest calling: Worshiping the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Some ministers do this without preaching. They do it through song. Other ministers provide us with exhortation to praise and worship him. Some teach us about the greatness of God so that the only natural result is to praise them. Yet, others provide the example of public worship and we seemingly can’t help but go along.
Edifying the Body
This is a rather broad commission. It involves a number of specific tasks that ministers perform. It includes comforting those who are facing difficult circumstances, exhorting believers to righteous living, teaching the doctrines of the Bible to new believers and taking older Christians deeper into the things of God. Sometimes it means holding a congregation member accountable for his or her life choices. Other times it means holding a hand as life slips away.
The minister not only points a soul toward the cross, but walks along with them as they climb the hill and beyond. It’s a commitment that all of us cannot make. However, for those whom God chooses to walk this difficult path, he has stored up special rewards to be given in that day.
A. For what purpose has God given us those who minister in our midst?
B. Earlier in this chapter Paul refers to these ministers as “gifts”. Have you ever had an experience in which a minister has been a gift sent by God at just the right time? Tell about it.
II Timothy 1.6-8
A. What was Timothy to “stir up”? What does this tell us about God-Given ministry?
B. What type of cost was there for Timothy to become the type of minister Paul knew he could become?
A. What does Jesus tell His disciples to do?
B. What types of signs would follow them? What significance is there in the fact that Jesus mentions the signs and wonders after He gives the great commission?
A. What does Jesus ask Peter to do to show he loves Jesus?
B. In what ways does a minister provide his or her sheep with food?
A. What does this tell us about the job of a minister?
B. In what ways can we provide the honor due to those who minister unto us as God’s servants?