We do a great disservice to the Church whenever we refer to the pastorate as the “ministry”. Even I am guilty of this often. I have gone to school and I am entering the ministry as if it is this elitist group that only a privileged few can enter after enormous amount of education and gads of training. It’s just not true. When we say, “the ministry” we make it sound as if it is the only ministry there is and if you miss the boat…too bad.
The Greek word diakonia/ διακονία for ministry
is generic and better understood as ministration or specifically “service”. If
you’re a Christian…you’re in the ministry…somehow. Where you are at in the
ministry is the question to a lesser of greater degree. It is really up to you
and the work of God to determine where. It usually (but not always) lies where
some of your natural talents lie…or God will gift you.
As for the word diakonia, it lacks specificity until
a descriptive adjective is added, whether 'pastoral' , 'social', 'political',
'medical' or another. All Christians without exception, being followers of him
who came 'not to be served but to serve', are themselves called to ministry,
indeed to give their lives in ministry. But the expression 'full-time Christian
ministry' is not to be restricted to a church. This is a misunderstanding. It can
also be in government, as a professional tradesman, industry
and even the home. Actually, especially the home. We need to properly see this vision of diversity of
ministries to which God calls his people. Many body parts, one body, one Spirit.
It is to the ministry of the word and the Gospel to
which pastors are called to dedicate their life. It is not just that many are too busy for ministry, it is also that many are preoccupied with the wrong
ministry too. Many pastors, instead of concentrating on the ministry of the
word (which is what they're primarily called to do) end up counseling individuals
and training and they become overwhelmed and
burned out with the nuanced penny ante details that could probably be delegated
to others better qualified. Many times what I have seen is it is the pastor's
own fault because he is a micro-manager and distrusting. If we’re all led by
the same Spirit, we should be at least able to trust He will guide the next guy
Regardless, the consequences are disastrous. The
standards of preaching and teaching most often are in steep decline as pastors
do not spend the proper time reading and understanding the text, praying and
being in God’s presence. The other half of this is a lazy congregation. They do
not exercise their God-given right to read and teach themselves, expecting
instead to be spoon-fed long after they should have been eating the meat of the
word with their own fork and knife. For both of these reasons congregations are stunted
in their maturity in Christ. They never grow. There is little spirituality and
although they have headcount, their churches end up looking more like a
battle’s body count in terms of salvation, sanctification or growth.
What is needed is the basic, biblical recognition
that God calls different men and women to different ministries and utilize them
all to the edification of the entire body. If you are expecting the leaders in
your church to do all the work for the Kingdom, perhaps you are not really
going to get there with them?
We need to do some of the work in the Body of Christ folks,
otherwise we end up forcing our pastor to moonlight and do jobs he has not been called to do. Some of which can be doing damage to his true calling. We make him something he's not and often...he allows it. The Apostles knew better in Acts 6:1-7, so should we. We
have the Bible and hindsight to teach us. If we do not all do our job in
ministry, its as if we pimp our pastors and leaders out to the devil. How you
say? Because we allow them to be doing things they were not called to do. We
let them do what we often times are called to do and this is one of the subtle
deceptions of Satan. Distracting us from our ministry or service. The old adage is true here, you can please some of the people some of the time but you cannot please all of the people all of the time. You are better off pleasing God and leaving it at that.
It is a shame, we're pimping out our pastors or making them our dealer because
we're too lazy to do what we've already been commanded (or called) to do which is read and learn the Bible. Instead we literally show up at church once a week to get our fix in small bite-sized parcels like cruising for dime bags. Once we're done Sunday afternoon, we feel better after we've had our fix and we move on for the rest of the week forgetting all about God and the Body. We can't be weekend warriors
for Christ and ignore our responsibility to be Christian the rest of
A part time Christian is no Christian at all and a derailed and
distracted pastor is the Devil's own since he has been taken from his God-given
task. Trying to get a quick fix of God from our pastors is abuse of the pastor. If the pastor continues to allow it instead of teaching people to teach themselves, he becomes an enabler or worse...a pusher of bad behavior.