Is “Ministry” a Synonym for “Church Work?”

Search for the term “full-time ministry” and you will find the term is universally equivalent to working for a church or Christian non-profit full time. It seems the term “ministry” is a synonym for church work or working for a para-church organization.

But originally, the word didn’t have such a religious meaning. A Minister of Defense or a Prime Minister is someone who serves others in a governmental role. What if a minister is simply one who serves?

Minister or Servant

I read a post once about how ministry is the work of Jesus. [1] Jesus said “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” We’re not called to give our lives as a ransom, but we are asked to become a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). Jesus asks us to give our lives away in service (ministry) to others. The authors of many of the New Testament letters identified themselves as bond-servants. The Greek word that translates “servant” also is often translated by “minister.” The Greek words I speak of have the word diakonos as their root word. We get our word “deacon” from it.

Jesus’ plan is that we would serve others as a witness to having been changed, or saved, by what he has done. We receive the Holy Spirit and we begin to grow in Jesus so that our lives reflect him. As we grow, our actions and our life makes Jesus visible. When Jesus told his disciples that we would be his witnesses (Acts 1:8), he was simply stating a fact. We are his market strategy. Jesus doesn’t have another strategy for distributing his message.

First Marketplace Minister

Jesus commissioned the first marketplace minister in Mark 5:1-20. Jesus freed a man from having an army of demons living in him. The people of the community were blown away by this strange, holy guy, Jesus, who just saved this other guy’s life. Jesus also caused the death of a herd of pigs when he saved this man. So the people asked Jesus to leave the region. They didn’t want Jesus to stick around. When the man asked to come with Jesus, Jesus replied, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you and how He had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19)

Imagine a missionary was assigned to work with you. Their first job is the same as yours. Like you, they have to do their job well enough to earn their paycheck. They have the same constraints you have. Would they do their job differently than you? If so, examine your life and your idea of a missionary. Jesus saved you to be his representative, minister, or missionary in your present workplace – not just when you are doing church work.

How is your eternal ministry going?

Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

[1] I searched for this article but couldn’t find it. I found others that also help, such as Christian, Your Job is a Ministry and What is Christian Ministry?

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