Defining Ministry As Jesus Defines It
1. the service or functions or profession of a minister of religion
2. the tasks assigned to the disciples of Jesus at their commissioning.
When someone says they are going into ministry what do we think that means? How do we define ministry? Often in means the work of the clergy including the serving of sacraments, last rights, conducting weddings, funerals, baptisms, visiting the sick, leading in public worship and delivering devotionals and sermons. Sounds fun, right? These things must be done. But has anyone taken time to research how Jesus defined ministry? What is at the core of what Jesus wanted his twelve disciples to learn and then teach others to do? To find that we would need to study all the accounts where Jesus commissioned people and ask what was it that he sent them to do? What was it that he gave them His authority to do? What was it that he empowered them through impartation to do? What was it that he spent time training them to do?
In the account of Mark 3, it is recorded that he selected the twelve, to send them out to announce the Kingdom and cast out demons. Similarly, in Mark 6:7 “He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.” So along with instructions, He imparted authority over evil spirits to them. Likewise, in Matt 10:1 “He called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.” Their work was to free people from all kinds of oppression and affliction whether it be physical, psychological or spiritual. Every account of a sending or commissioning records the same basic instructions to heal the sick and cast out demons. Luke 9:1-2 says “He called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” And in Luke 10:9: “Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.”
In every single instance where he sent his disciples out, he commanded them to say and do the same things. This should help us define ministry as Jesus defines it, right? Yet we do everything but these things. If we define ministry the way Jesus defined it, every Christian should be in ministry. Not just bishops, priests, reverends, ministers, chaplains, church staff, etc. Every one of us has been given the same great commission just like the original twelve were commissioned with. Let’s define ministry the way Jesus defines it.