Friday, March 06, 2015

Ministry? Dude that is your job!

My friend Josh Gelatt wrote an interesting post, Who Does the Work of Ministry?, that looks at the notion that ministry is something that the pastor is supposed to do exclusively. He looks at one source of this misconception, namely the different way that Ephesians 4: 11-12 is rendered in the obsolete language of the King James, which remains a favorite in the church especially in more "conservative" circles versus modern translations. First the KJV:

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Eph 4:11-12 KJV)

Notice as Josh points out who is doing ministry, the "clergy". Now look at the ESV:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (Eph 4:11-12 ESV)

See the difference? In the KJV the elders are doing the work, in the ESV they are equipping, as more mature believers, the rest of the church to do the work of the ministry. That is an enormous difference. I am not a Greek scholar but Josh knows his stuff, as do the translation committee of the English Standard Version, so I am inclined to favor the ESV (and why I use it rather than the KJV). I am a bit embarrassed that I never noticed that difference before.

I like something else Josh wrote (emphasis in original):

For generations Christians have lived under the false idea that God expects very little from them. They "get saved", go to church, maybe tithe, and try to avoid really obvious sins. In fact, the church even began to speak of being "called into ministry", by which we mean someone becomes a pastor or missionary. Such language, however well intended, is the Devil's lie. All believers are called into ministry1 Peter 2:9 says "but you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light." Also notice Ephesians 2:10, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand." Those verses were not written just to your pastor, but to all of us. Every single believer.

Exactly,  the "show up, shut up and pay up" model is a lie of the enemy. Now Josh and I disagree in places on the function of elders in the church, specifically the pastor, but he is right on the money here. Ministry is the work of the church, all of us not just a select few professionals. 

Check out his entire post and share it, this is a message that needs to get out to the church, pastors and "laity" alike. The call to ministry is far too big and way too important to relegate it to a few subcontractors. 

Are you called to ministry? If you are a Christian the answer is always "Yes!".

1 comment:

Aussie John said...


Oh, YES!