the weblog of Alan Knox

When we are all ministers

Posted by on Mar 5, 2013 in blog links, service | 12 comments

When we are all ministers

Have you ever heard the saying “every member a minister”? That’s actually the type of life that we see described in Scripture: every member of the body of Christ is a minister (servant).

Unfortunately, I’ve heard this phrase used by the some well-meaning people who only apply it to their own church organization and to those who hold some type of formal membership in that organization and who are also under the guidance (control) of a staff member. That’s not really “every member a minister” though… that’s something different.

Lately, I’ve ready several very good posts about this kind of thing… the kind of thing where every follower of Jesus Christ is empowered to serve others in the way that Jesus has called him/her and gifted him/her and given him/her opportunities. (In this case, the role of leaders among the church is to encourage, equip, and help, if needed.)

Here are few of those posts:

When we are all ministers, we are all given the opportunity and the encouragement to speak into one another’s lives whenever we gather together.

When we are all ministers, we recognize that we all serve differently – in different way, in different locations, through different opportunities.

When we are all ministers, we value that diversity – even when people don’t serve the way WE think they should – because we know that God works his grace through all of his children as he calls them, not as we call them.

When we are all ministers, we listen to one another and learn from one another because we know that we could be the recipient of God amazing love and grace through any of his children at any time.

When we are all ministers, we encourage others to serve, we point out opportunities of service, we serve with others as an example, but we never coerce or manipulate others into serving, trusting God to do his work in his time.

When we are all ministers, we do not compare ourselves and our areas of service to others; we rejoice that God has chosen to work through all of his children in different ways.

When we are all ministers…

What would you add?


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  1. 3-5-2013

    The very term minister and ministry needs to be killed, buried and forgotten along with all of its baggage. The terms are more accurately translated serve and service. This correction eliminates misunderstandings such as “my ministry” as a self serving substitute for the biblical “I serve” We are not officials in the court of King James, we do not hold ministry positions, we are not privileged employees, we are slaves of Jesus Christ and servants in his kingdom, servants to our brothers and sisters in the redeemed community and servants to all of mankind in His name. It is hard enough to keep the truth in mind, it is even harder when our very vocabulary, tradition and bible translations continually confuse the issue. I do not mean to be strident about this but it is a continual struggle to keep these differences clear in my own life. Thanks for reminding me again.

  2. 3-5-2013

    Tom I soooooo agree with you!!! Some of “Christian terminology” is so offensive and irrelevant. Those two words qualify for sure in my humble opinion. Bravo…I have grabbed my flag and am marching right beside you on this.

  3. 3-5-2013

    Excellent clarification.

    What would you add?
    When we are all servants (Tom’s version) we see no age distinction in who is speaking and give lesser value to the words and actions of children in our gathering. When children speak, we listen closer and give greater honor to the parts that usually lack it. We see that we are all God’s children, not God’s adults and God’s children with a disparity of function between the two. We recognize that there are children in our presence who have spiritual maturities we do not possess and words from God that we He has not revealed to us adults first.

    In our gathering, every week, at least 5 children have scriptures ready to share and “This is why I like this scripture…” The spiritual power of this is stunning. They have searched out and prepared these words of wisdom during the week in preparation. The parents have taught this and lead them in it. When they can barely read, they are participating.

  4. 3-5-2013

    Sadly, ministry is not a shared thing. Of course, this is contrary to the NT. They were found together… even in the book of Acts doing ministry. I notice it says, “they preached”, when talking about Paul and Barnabas or Paul and Silas. Whether they rotated or took turns, they shared ministry. “Titles” and “positions” were not so important. To me, I feel that too many are building or campaigning their ministry rather than building people… making disciples. True leadership “gives ministry away” through relationship and the help of the Holy Spirit. Speaking of discipleship, biblical discipleship gets other people involved on/at practical levels. Think about these big ministries on TV (not that I watch them) never have anyone else speaking or doing what they are doing. They have so much money to finance others to replicate or reproduce what they are doing (or should be doing), but they do not. To me, they are falling short of God’s will. Of course, some of those people in terms of what they do/proclaim is somewhat to be desired. And local church functions in much of the same capacity. The church is the greatest thing God has given to humanity to continue the life and ministry of Jesus and I love the church…. we just need to change what we have been doing.

  5. 3-5-2013

    Love your list, Alan.

    When we are all ministers and someone visits, they are concerned that there is no minister.

  6. 3-5-2013

    We have gotten people use to this model. One person… leading everything. The kingdom is and was always distributed… given away.

  7. 3-5-2013


    I agree with you. I rarely use the terms “ministry” or “minister” or the term “deacon,” since they are all forms of the terms “serve,” “service,” and “servant.” I specifically used the term “ministry” in this post though, to highlight the difference.


    Yes, there are many terms found in Scripture that are used incorrectly (or in different ways) today. We must be careful to point out how we are using the terms. I think it’s clear in this post that I’m not using the term “minister” in the way it’s often used.


    Thanks for the addition to my list… especially with such a timely example.


    For us, ministry (service) is a shared thing. We have learned to change what we’re doing. It does take time to get people used to the difference. And, like Tom pointed out earlier, changing our terminology can be beneficial. For example, if people attach the term “ministry” to certain times or people or activities, then use the term “service.”


    I’ve noticed that… :) (And, thanks for adding to my list!)


  8. 3-6-2013

    I think a lot of folks would be surprised at how much ‘ministry’ goes on at an auto repair shop. Nothing to do with the fixing cars part, (Almost) every day. People think/say we are in business, we strongly feel it is a day by day ministry and some basic and practical level.

    I know I have been ‘ministered’ to at Moe’s restaurant by a young man who works there and remembers what we like and takes the time to connect and ask how we are. Sometimes that is the first time in a day that someone asks that question.

    Often I find it goes back to listening. I think about my husband who is great at remembering names of people (and family members) and remembers their ‘details’. I do know that it matters to people and some could call it ‘ministry’. These are all very simple day by day things I note. Could be completely off of what you are thinking Alan (and others).

    We have met some precious, precious people plowing through school to become ‘ministers’ or go into ministry and are so engulfed in the process of learning how to, that they don’t have time for anything else,
    AND, need to be ministered to. Thanks Alan. :)

  9. 3-6-2013

    Great to hear Alan… that is awesome.

  10. 3-6-2013


    I think that you and Joe are great examples of what I’m writing about here. Could you imagine how different our community would be if everyone who is a part of your church saw themselves as “ministers” and served others in many different ways? Thousands of ministers…


  11. 3-10-2013

    Here is another article, by D. Elton Trueblood, “Ordaining Every Member.”
    He gave much emphasis to Ephesians 4 and the ministry of every Christian.

  12. 3-11-2013


    Thanks for the link!