Here is the eighth chapter from Learning to Walk. (We’re almost there, there’s only 10 chapters and the last one is a summary). Thank you all for the feedback so far. Keep it coming!
When you read in the Bible how God gave certain people specific abilities we have to remember, they couldn’t read about it. They had to find out they were given those abilities by following God and using them. This is why being active in the ministries of your church family is so important. Through service you experience the power of God at work in, through, and around you.
The ministries of the church belong to every member. You are a part of the body of Christ, and you have something both to offer, and to gain. God has brought you into his family so that you can know him, and others can come to know him though you. This happens through acts of service that we call “ministry.”
Ministry can be a formal program in the structure of the church. By this I mean an activity that is planned, funded, and carried out by the church like Vacation Bible School, the deacon ministry, or an outreach program like feeding the homeless. Ministry can also be informal, like bringing cold water out to the guys working on the road down your street, bringing lunch to the guy on the corner begging for change, or stopping to talk and pray with a co-worker who’s having a hard time.
It’s easy to get the idea that ministry has to be something big, flashy, and well-organized. That simply isn’t true. Some of the most powerful and effective ministry ever done is small but intentional acts of love, compassion, and kindness offered on an interpersonal, one-on-one situation. That personal love and care can be far more powerful than a corporate event, so never underestimate the effectiveness of any small thing God may lead you to do.
You are the church and any service—great or small—you offer another in Jesus’ name and for his great purpose is ministry. Since, as a follower of Jesus, you do ministry, you are a minister—whether you have a title or not. As a member of God’s kingdom and family, you are brought into God’s mission. That makes you a missionary. Acts 17:26 tells us that God determined the very times and places each one of us would live so that people would seek God. In other words, you live here and now so that you would seek God, and so that others would seek God because of what they see in you. Whether God plants you here or sends you out, you are on mission to introduce people to the love and truth of Jesus.
Ministry, whether it’s formal or informal, is a vital part of that mission. And what you’ll find is that ministry is a double-edged sword. It will always affect those to whom we minister, but it will also impact and edify those doing the ministry. In our old self we wanted people to serve us and meet our needs. In Christ we find there is greater joy and benefit in trusting God for our needs and serving others! When God works through us to do what only he can do, we receive a blessing of joy and fulfillment.
Serving with your brothers and sisters in ministry also builds relationships. Those who serve together grow closer together and build a trust and a bond that enriches, edifies, and fulfills them. Like we said earlier, “brothers who sweat together stick together.” That unity is essential to show people what redeemed relationships look like, and for discovering our identity and calling in Christ.