Practical Thoughts on Church and Ministry

Our understanding of ecclesiology (what we believe about the church) bears important implications for how we approach our everyday spiritual lives and the work of the ministry. God has created his Church, one united community through the redeeming  blood of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit to dwell with all those who believe in Him, uniting us together and calling us to worship, grow together, and spread the gospel.

We need each other: 

Too often Church is treated as a check box to complete on Sunday morning, or neglected as a non-essential for a relationship with Christ. The Scriptures remind us of the importance of spiritual gifts, which are given to each believer in the community for “the common good.” Scripture implores us to remember to  gather together for the sake of building each other up. It cannot be stressed enough that regular covenantal commitment to the local church is essential both for an individual’s own personal growth, but also for the growth of others as the Spirit has uniquely gifted each of us to grow together. Every believer is vital for carrying out the building up of the body (Ephesians 4:11-16). This is a truth that needs to be remembered when doing pastoral ministry. Ministers should not set themselves up to be the center of attention and the only one using their gifts. Ministry leaders have been placed within the church to equip all believers to carry out ministry.

Keep the main things, the main things: 

In a time when many novel strategies for ministry are implemented in an attempt to grow churches by attraction, churches need to remember not to diminish the essential aspects of the church[1] that God gave us through Christ and the work of the Spirit. Too often important essentials like baptism and the Lord’s Supper are neglected in our congregations, as is our understanding of the central doctrines of the faith. When we neglect  the Biblical and historical practices of the sacraments, we deprive ourselves of key means of teaching and growing in the faith. We must continue  to maintain our moral emphasis on loving, serving, and edifying one another. But we cannot ignore the importance of grounding our faith in the deep rooted historic beliefs, knowing that the loss of essential Christian teachings would be the demise of our spiritual health.

Practice meaningful community: 

In a day when buzz words like “fellowship” are thrown around without any depth of genuine focus on communal edification and ministry, our churches need a better understanding of the purpose and function of Biblical community.  The Spirit of God has called us together to more than sharing in  social events, but to sharpening, teaching, edifying, suffering, believing, and confessing together. Our time together needs to focus on glorifying God in worship, demonstrating the Gospel to the world around us, and helping one another to grow in Christlikeness.

A proper ministry focus: 

For pastors, our ministry must be about being Christ to those entrusted to us as we aid them in becoming more like Him. As we struggle through our ministries, we must always remember that it is God that empowers us to do anything. Ministry must always begin from a humble position that is totally dependent upon God. It must begin with prayer and end with prayer. Any successes are because of what God has done.

[1] Essential elements of the church include: worship, evangelism, edification, preaching, the sacraments, biblical leadership, and orthodox doctrine.

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