And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…(Ephesians 4:11-12)
Do not ask your pastor to do your job for you.
We’ve got it twisted in our consumeristic society. We expect to go to church, be fed truth, and go home. Thanks for the message, pastor. Thanks for the worship, worship leaders. You did your job well this morning, the crucial task of the ministry.
But we forget it’s now our turn to do ministry.
We’ve elevated our expectations of vocational ministers to the great neglect of our own responsibility. We outsource the responsibility for heralding the rescue of the gospel to those who get paid to do it, but that’s not their job. Their job is to equip us, to love us, and to shepherd us so we can do the work of the ministry. It isn’t that vocational ministers don’t also do the work of the ministry – of course they do. I’ve seen The Door’s staff sweated wet from serving others and if you go to any of the area coffee shops, I bet you’ll see one of them meeting with someone. They are to serve their neighbors and coworkers just like the rest of us – but they can’t do the work of the ministry solo.
What we too often expect from pastors is akin to expecting a political leader to pick up a rifle and go win a battle by himself. It would be like asking Winston Churchill, after one of his rousing speeches during World War II, to then go take out the Nazis. That’s ridiculous.
Some of us are called to sell our belongings and move overseas on mission, but the large majority of us are called to live Spirit-drenched lives where God has planted us. We are all missionaries. We are called to serve the poor among us, build up the body of the church, and perhaps most importantly, to offer the eternity-altering gospel to others. We do not do the converting – God does that – but we can saturate the soil of a human heart by lovingly presenting the truth of what Jesus has accomplished for us. We can only give that which we’ve been given, so it is necessary that we immerse ourselves in God’s word and surround ourselves with good preaching and teaching.
If you have placed your faith in Jesus and have experienced his saving grace, you are in the ministry. It doesn’t matter who signs your paycheck. Per Ephesians 2:10, God has prepared good works for you before you were born. You need only to walk in them faithfully, capable and ready. And the next time you see one of your pastors, thank them for equipping you to do what God has called you to do.