In the old profile system for the United Church of Christ, pastors were asked to define what ministry meant for them. Below are some of my thoughts, although ministry has become so dynamic that it is increasingly difficult to “pin down” in this rapidly changing world.
For me, ministry is working to share the Gospel in the world: it means realizing Jesus’ mission of social, economic, and racial justice. Ministry is the Body of Christ continuing Jesus’ ministry on an individual, community, and global level. It means organizing coat drives, taking trips to help the impoverished in Appalachia, giving out groceries, making prayer shawls for the homebound, donating time to a local men’s shelter.
Ministry is balancing the local and the global— doing outreach in the world as well as in the neighborhood or in the pew. It is finding ways to help believers realize their callings to serve, teach or lead— so that together God’s people can “co-create” that Kingdom of Heaven Jesus spoke of. Ministry means helping the people of God build relationships with each other and God, fostering a sense of family where every person’s gifts are welcomed, celebrated, and utilized. Ministry is going to Max’s football game and Genevieve’s softball game. It means being at the hospital at 6am to pray with someone before surgery, so she knows she’s not alone.
It means being dedicated to the growth and development of the Body of Christ in all its forms, and helping the Church keep up with changing times and technology. Part of the calling to ministry means helping an ancient institution make the transition into the next century: changing the role of the church in the community, fundraising, utilizing the web and social media, finding new ways to adapt to fit the lives of busy people, creating new programs and opportunities to worship and to serve.
Ministry is helping people find an intimate, personal experience of God they can hold onto. It’s journeying together as a community to work out a practical, livable faith. Ministry never dictates answers or beliefs, but empowers God’s people to “own” their faith and decide for themselves how they will follow Jesus and live out their own calling to ministry and discipleship.
As an ordained minister, sometimes ministry for me becomes stepping aside to let others do the work of the Gospel. Ministry is about empowerment, helping every believer find their own ministry, find their own way to live out the Gospel they claim. Ministry is what happens when God’s spirit is active and thriving in a community. It is what I have been called to do and it is what gives me joy—even when it entails proof-reading a bulletin, writing a budget or attending a committee meeting. I am committed to the life and growth of the Gospel, and to the Body of Christ: as a minister, servant of God and follower of Jesus, I will do whatever I can to help that happen.
For a bit more about me, click here.