Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Preaching Is "Ministry," Opening a Bike Shop Is Not. Wrong!

"In ministry." Church, we get this so wrong. "This conference is for people in ministry." "How long have you been in ministry?" "If you're in ministry, be sure to attend this seminar." Or how about this one: Using New Testament Greek in Ministry. Oh my! I wrote that book! The fact is, every follower of Jesus is in ministry. Those who waited on tables in Acts 6 were in ministry. Those who separated themselves unto the word and prayer were in ministry. Both are called a diakonia, "ministry," by Luke. They are simply different ways of serving God. Remember this: No matter how our Christian subculture (including yours truly) has misused the term, "in ministry" is not only for pastors. Rob, here, is a good example.

He's the owner of "The Bike Guy," a cycling store in Wake Forest.

Today he helped me with a saddle and handlebars adjustment. Years ago, when I bought this bike from him, I learned that he had taken classes with me at the seminary. Eventually he graduated with his M.Div. degree. "What did you do after that?", I asked. "I went into ministry," he replied, adding, "I opened my bike shop." Gasp. This guy gets it I thought to myself.

Because we are all followers of Jesus, we are all ministers. Is this to minimize pastoral ministry? No. It is, rather, to ennoble whatever ministry God has called you to, be it pastoring or opening a bike store. So maybe, just maybe, we can begin to use the correct terminology. And if this seems too big of a step, come to my farm for one afternoon and watch how "hay ministry" takes place.

John Stott, in his book The Living Church, writes, "We do a great disservice to the church whenever we refer to the pastorate as 'the' ministry. For if we use the definite article, we give the impression that we think the pastorate is the only ministry there is. I repented of this decades ago, and invite my readers to join me in penitence today."

Sackcloth and ashes, anyone?