A few days ago, when I decided to start writing a short post about “full-time ministry,” I did a Google search on the phrase. I found something interesting. More and more people are writing about (and, hopefully, living) the fact that “full-time ministry” is not something that is relegated to a select few among the church – a few who are paid to do full-time ministry.
Instead, more and more people are realizing that all of Jesus’ followers are called to follow him into full-time ministry – that is, to love God and love others and serve people all the time, wherever they are, regardless of their vocation. (In fact, there are some who are recognizing that those who are paid as “vocational ministers” may be actually doing less ministry/service than those who are working in other vocations, but that’s a topic for another post.)
To be honest, I was surprised (and excited) to find that so many people are beginning to define “full-time ministry” in the way that we find in Scripture – that is, full-time ministry is not about being paid as a vocational pastor to do certain duties for a church-based organization. People are living as full-time ministers while working as sales people, mechanics, programmers, teachers, and many other occupations. People are living as full-time ministers while living as mothers and fathers, students, retirees, etc.
When I read the New Testament, this is the description of ministry that I see – everyone serving others as they share their lives with others (both brothers and sisters in Christ and those who are not believers). When all believers see “full-time ministry” as what happens when they follow Jesus in loving and serving others, I think we’ll begin seeing the kind of response that we read about in the New Testament.
But, as long as we continue to see “full-time ministry” as the responsibility of only a few who are paid to serve on behalf of the whole church, then the spread of the gospel and the maturity of the church will be hindered.
So, like I said at the beginning, I’m excited to read about more and more people seeing “full-time ministry” as their responsibility – at least when it comes to interacting with unbelievers. Unfortunately, I think many still see “full-time ministry” among the church as the responsibility of only a few paid professionals.
God has placed us among people – both unbelievers and believers – in order to work through us to demonstrate his love for them, to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, and to build up the church so that we all grow in maturity, unity, and faith in Jesus Christ – that is, God has placed us among people to work as full-time ministers.