Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Some years ago, a man and his wife were traveling through our Wisconsin town in the Fall, perhaps to look at the trees changing color. While in town, the man became ill and had to be hospitalized. They had visited the church a week earlier, so when I went to make my Wednesday hospital visits, there they were. The couple related to me their sad story of how they had no money, no more motel room to which they could return, and the bus on which they were to go back on, already left because the husband was too ill to travel. Then they said those words that always leaves a pastor speechless, “Preacher, can you help us? After all, we are born-again Christians, even if we’re not from the your denomination.”
Of course, my nervous reply was, ”Well, I’ll see what can be done.” Leaving that hospital dumbfounded, I asked the Lord what He was going to do about this situation. I certainly was not prepared to hear from the couple four hours later, calling to tell me they were to be released in two hours.
Now anyone who knows me, knows that even as a pastor I may have compassion, but mercy is not big in my arsenal of spiritual gifts. So praying silently, I picked up the phone and called a couple in our church that recently moved here from Alaska. They were originally in the community and church in 1991, when we were constructing our new church building. Then they moved back to Alaska. God burdened their hearts to move back to our area to minister in our church. Jim was a builder and Jill was a nurse and home-school mom. They loved and missed the people here. Jim wanted to use his building skills to help other churches as well. It came to mind that this couple always had an “open home,” especially to help the needy. Jill heard this other couple’s story, and after consulting with her husband, took them in for a few days to help them out. The only problem was that the few days turned into a few weeks…twelve to be exact. They fed, loved, and nurtured them to health and beyond, until they could catch another bus and return south.
Someone once said, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” That couple did something in the name if the Lord beyond mere duty, the norm of temporary service, or even a quick repair. Real ministry is not simply the performing of a service for the church one-day-a-week. Don’t get me wrong, those weekly services are an important and even a vital part to the church’s operation; however, those weekly services can also become a weary business that has our people and forces scattered all over. It can tend to delude our people into thinking their work is done for the week, or even for a while. Unless the mindset or vision of having a ministry settles in people’s hearts, the church will lose its vibrant spontaneity.
When the church loses spontaneity, the church either sinks into a mundane rou-tine or they fall into the merry-go-round style of pumping the crowd to work even harder to remain new or fresh. Our battle cry then, becomes a call to add more minis-tries, things to do, and workers to semi-willingly work. Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten that God gives gifts to all believers in the church so that they will edify the body, who will they in turn, reach out and minister the Gospel with their willing hearts, talents, and gifts.
With that realization, we can find the starting point of ministry as a mindset. That point begins where people willingly volun-teer to help because they have a Holy Spirit-driven desire that needs fulfillment. There is almost no greater fear or joy for a pastor than to hear members regularly say, “Pastor, I believe God wants me to do this, or serve here in this area.” An even greater joy is to have a waiting list of leaders and workers who have been trained for the working of the ministry.
Remember pastors and leaders, our goal is to oversee God’s work, and not be it or do it alone. That empowerment begins with a mindset that leads to Everyone a Ministry.
By Pastor Ron Tobin