What comes to your mind when you think about “doing ministry”?
I hope not just what you do when serving in a church meeting… Sunday School, worship team, youth, teaching, prayer, set up/clean up, hospitality, counselling etc.
Not that those services are not ministry “unto the Lord” that are done to bring him glory, rather they are not your primary ministry.
Your primary ministry is where you spend most of your waking hours every day, week in and week out. For 99% of Christians that is not in a church related ministry. While some are called to serve full-time in church ministry to equip the people of God for their work of ministry, ALL Christians are in FULL TIME ministry in the Kingdom.
Your primary ministry is much easier to identify than you probably think! It is most likely happens in a combination of these three places: home, work and play. These ordinary everyday places are where you spend the majority of your time and is therefore where you are to do all things for God’s glory. Work and family is your ministry. It’s where you get to demonstrate the gifts and fruit of the Spirit most regularly. Your church meeting related ministry is really your secondary ministry when it comes to how often you use your spiritual gifts etc.
We get this mixed up when we reason from the church to the kingdom (part to the whole), instead of the kingdom to the church (whole to the part). The church is not the kingdom, it is a part of it, albeit a majorly important part. My body (whole) doesn’t exist for my hand (part), rather my hand exists to serve my body. Because the church is called to demonstrate the kingdom in this world, your primary ministry will always be a kingdom building ministry and not a church centred ministry. (Another way we talk about this within COTN is the gospel of the kingdom vs. the gospel of the church.)
You may be a member in a local church and serve in a practical way or preach, or lead youth, or counsel, or serve tea or clean up after the meeting, whatever… never stop doing that because it is not “either/or”, rather “that and more”. The “kingdom coming” in your family, neighbourhood, work place and play ground is the “more” and your primary place of ministry. The kingdom coming through the church, bringing about the righteous rule of God into all of the domains of society is your primary ministry. Seek first the kingdom in family, education, government, law, healthcare, business and economics, arts, communication and media, science and technology. That’s primary or of first importance!
Abraham Kuyper summed it up well when he said
“…there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry ‘mine!’”
So we go to work everyday (whether in the home or the market place) to make sure that is happening.
Part of the confusion comes when we think that some ministries are more “spiritual” than others. All of life is spiritual and there is no such thing as a “sacred/secular” divide. Are the “supernatural” manifestation gifts of the Holy Spirit more spiritual that the “natural” manifestation fruit of the Spirit? Never! Both come from the same Holy Spirit who isn’t divided in a natural/secular part and a supernatural/sacred part. He is one and the same Spirit who demonstrates his power through different ways. Praying for someone to be healed whilst at a church gathering and then practicing patience and kindness with the obnoxious and rude person tailgating you on the way home are both naturally supernatural and quite spiritual!
Not so long ago I co-led a bible study at one of the local high schools with about 10 students. You could hear a pin drop the presence of God was so evident in the room. Hearts melted and minds were renewed. God was glorified. By faith I executed one of the many good works that were prepared before the foundation of the world for me. Later I fetched my boys from their and went home to clean the house up. I vacuumed the floor, folded washing, cleaned the kitchen and helped the boys clean their rooms. It was truly a demonstration of the Spirit’s power! I ministered to the Lord and my family by God’s grace with a right attitude, for his glory and my families good. This good work too was ordained for me before the foundation of the world that I may bring God glory in it.
Which one brought Jesus more glory? I don’t know, I think both. Both were “spiritual ministry” as far as I am concerned.