Assemblies of God 16 Fundamental Truths
#11: The Ministry
This doctrine states that God calls some to lead in ministry. Involvement in ministry in response to a divine call is scripturally ordained in the Bible. It is a provision of the Lord for the four-fold purpose of leading the Church in:
- Evangelization of the World(Mark 16:15-20).
- Worship of God (John 4:23-24).
- Building a body of believers conforming to the life of Christ (Ephesians 4:11, 16).
- Meeting human need with ministries of love and compassion (Galatians 2:10; 6:10).
What does “the priesthood of believers” entail? Pastor Chng explores.
The significance of this doctrine is the priesthood of believers. All believers in the church should be released to ministry. God has set apart the five-fold ministry to equip the congregation to minister both within and outside the local church. (Ephesians 4:11-12)
I was once asked, “How many ministers do you have in your church?” I replied the number of pastoral staff we have. As I reflected on this question again, maybe I should have included the lay leaders who are serving in the carecells, children and youth ministries. But is this all that God has intended for the church? Does the Pareto principle of 20% serving the 80% of the church reflect what God has destined? What if God has intended ALL 100% of the believers in your church to minister? Will this change your worldview of how you will do church or ministry?
Definition of Ministry1
Ministry is often associated with the work of the full-time pastors. However, the biblical concept of ministry is service rendered to God or to people. The most common concept of ministry as service is seen in the words ‘diakoneo’ (serve) and ‘douleuo’(serve as a slave).
Types of ministry seen in Scripture include the service of Priests and Levites in the Old Testament, of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers in the New Testament, along with the general ministry of the elders and the individual ministries of believers. The term ‘ministry’ therefore refers to the work of both those commissioned to leadership positions as well as the entire body of believers.
There are varying opinions regarding the historical development of ministry. Most see individual believers exercising charismatic ministry evolving to an official ministry leadership but restricted to a few. The Reformation reversed this trend. One of the three key ideas of the Reformation was “priesthood of believers”. Martin Luther thought that this word ‘priest’ should become as common as the word ‘Christian’ because all Christians are priests.
The priesthood of all believers is based on the clear teaching of Scripture. (Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 61:6; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelations 1:6) Because of Christ, believers are now part of a “royal priesthood” that ministers.
All believers are capable of relating to God directly. (Romans 5:1-5; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 4:14-16) Each believer can tap on God’s resources directly to minister in the sphere of influence that God has placed them.
Jesus is our Model for Ministry
Jesus sets an example for us to follow in Christian ministry. He came not to be served but to serve. (Matthew 20:28, John 13:4-5) As ministers, we follow the example of our Master, who ministered in a humble but loving service to the needs of humanity.
The official statement by the General Presbytery of the Assemblies of God on Pentecostal ministry and ordination approved on August 3, 2009 lists five areas that Jesus is our model.2
- Ministryis incarnational: Jesus ministers to (Matthew 1:23; John 1:14; 2 Corinthians 5:19)
- Ministryis kerygmatic: Jesus proclaimed the (Luke 4:18-19)
- Ministry is carried out in the power of the Holy Spirit.(Matthew 3:16, Acts 10:38)
- Ministryis humble service: Jesus came not to be served but to serve. (Matthew 20:28, John 13:4-5)
- Ministry is shepherding: Jesus is the faithful and caring shepherd. (John10:1-18)
The Church extends Christ’s Ministry
Before His resurrection, Jesus gave the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:19-20) He intended the church to extend His ministry. (Matthew 16:18, John 20:21-22) Moreover, we are given the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18)
Participation in ministry was not limited to the 12 disciples, or Paul the apostle. Less well-known fellow believers of the church were also readily called “diakonos” or “minister”. For example, Phoebe (Romans 16:1), Tychicus (Ephesians 6:21) and Epaphras (Colossians 1:7).
Ministry Belongs to Everyone in the Church
Ministry is not limited to the full time pastors. Ministry belongs to the entire body of Christ.
The five-fold ministry are to prepare God’s people for works of service (diakonía), so that the body of Christ may be built up. (Ephesians 4:12)
Every member of the body of Christ is called to minister in one way or another. It can be in big platforms or as small as serving a meal or being a listening ear to someone.
Besides serving in the church, the laity has the sphere of influence to minister in the marketplace where pastors may not have accessibility to reach. There is a need to equip every believer that their vocation is not their career. Their primary vocation is to be a disciple maker in the place that God has placed them in. The career is a means to achieve this and practically, to make ends meet. Every believer’s primary call is to make disciples, be it in church, family, school or workplace.
Parents have an important role as ministers to their children. In Deuteronomy 6:6-9, it talks about authentic faith and intentional discipleship in the homes. Our children today cannot be merely ministered by the pastors or their children ministry teachers once a week for a little more than an hour. That will be insufficient.
Media and worldly values bombard our children more than an hour each week. Parents need to minister to their children by grounding them in the love and fear of God. Parents need to be equipped to disciple their children in daily conversations at home. Only then can we raise a next generation of godly and passionate believers sold out for Christ who will fulfill their God-given destiny.
Imagine the entire church mobilized to minister in their homes, marketplace and the church. Imagine all are actively ministering in their own gifting and sphere of influence. The church or your ministry organization is building a ministry without walls, making a local and global impact.
Now that we have established the importance of ministry and who the ministry belongs to, the million dollar question is, “How do we get people in our church to minister?” People are busy. Congregants have misplaced priorities. There are real challenges. I do not profess to know all the answers. What I am going to present is from my personal experience.
- Inspire with vision rather than
People are motivated by who they can be and what they can do rather than what needs to be done. Inspire them with a preferred future of what their ministry can bring to the world around them. The Bible has numerous examples of envisioning. For example, in Genesis 12:1-3 and Deuteronomy 8:7-10.
- Disciplethem on the priesthood of believers and the heart of
We minister not out of duty but in response to God’s love and salvation. Let them know that when they minister to people, they are ministering unto the Lord. (Colossians 3:23, Matthew 25:40) Model for them what this means.
- Release people into their gifting and passion.
Every one has a spiritual gift. (Romans 12:6-8) Steward their gifts to be all that God wants them to be and do all that God wants them to do. I firmly believe that ministry gifts are manifested when a person steps out to minister.
- Equip them to minister (Ephesians 4:11-12).
Train them with the necessary skills. Releasing ministry to the people is not about dumping work to them but empowering them to fulfill their destiny.
Here are some reflection questions that you can review within your church or ministry organization:
- How are you equipping your church or ministry organization to do theministry?
- Howare they empowered and released to minister?
- What is stopping them from taking a greater ownership of the ministry? For example, ministry structure, ministry philosophy, wrong mindsets etc. What steps will you take to overcomeit?
Only when members of the body of Christ live out their respective ministries, will God be glorified and His kingdom work accomplished. Time and tide awaits no man. As the second coming of Jesus draws near, let us as an Assemblies of God movement commit afresh to this biblical mandate of ministry.
Source: 1 Elwell, Walter A Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1986), 721-722. 2 Pentecostal Ministry and Ordination, 3 August 2009. (http:// ag. org/ top/ beliefs/ Position_ Papers/ pp_downloads/pp_102909_Pentecostal_ministry_and_ ordination.pdf).
About Pastor David Chng
Pastor David Chng is a District Pastor of Trinity Christian Centre, overseeing the church’s education team and has extensive experience in carecell management and ministry. Fueled by his desire to see men and women discipled as strategic leaders, he devotes himself in building the next generation that will make a difference for the Kingdom of God.