What if our picture of ministry wasn’t one person in front of a group of 10, 100 or 1000 people but individuals and groups of ordinary Christians released to use their gifts and share the gospel with those around them? It’s not meant to be like Star Wars where there are a few chosen Jedi who are extraordinarily gifted and everybody else is just an ordinary member of the Rebel Alliance. There are no Jedi Christians. It's not reserved for the chosen few or the paid staff. We're all invited to join in. There’s no need to wait for some special call on our lives. 1 Peter 4:10 tells us that “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
Ephesians 4 tells us that Jesus “gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers to prepare God’s people for works of service.” It wasn’t meant that they do everything. Part of their role is to help all of us get involved. One of the things the Reformation emphasised was the priesthood of all believers. We’re not to rely on a few select people to connect us to God or to do mission and ministry instead of us. In his book Everyday Church, Tim Chester writes “We need to recapture the sense that gospel ministry is not something done by pastors with the support of ordinary Christians but something done by ordinary Christians with the support of pastors.” I think that captures something vital that the church is still missing.
Everyone who is Jesus’ disciple is his witness (Acts 1:8) and is sent somewhere, whether locally or further afield. The New Testament shows us fishermen, tax collectors, former prostitutes, women who’d had 5 husbands, zealots, ex-Pharisees, old, young, rich, poor, educated and uneducated, sent out on mission to draw people to Jesus. So there’s no excuse for watching someone else do it instead of us.
With so much Christian media available we have to watch we’re not merely consuming and not actually living out our faith. Keith Green put it nicely: "You're called. You're called to do something for Jesus. Not to sit around & grow fat on all the Christian literature & albums & concerts. You know what constipation is? It's when you're taking in more than you're letting out." Christian celebrity is one of the worst things that ever happened to the Church. It should be an oxymoron. There’s no place for ‘platforms’ and ‘big names’. All of us have a responsibility not to fuel a culture of celebrity by the way we talk about or regard Christian leaders, speakers, writers or musicians. To the Corinthian church, who were quarreling about which leaders they followed, Paul doesn’t hold back, telling them that they are “acting like mere men.” “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task” (1 Corinthians 3:4-5).
Jackie Pullinger nailed it saying, “In the Old Testament you had a few special people like judges or kings or prophets. In the New Testament, God said ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.’ The more you put one person on a pedestal, the more people think there’s some kind of special anointing or something, which is not true, and it actually makes the Church go backwards not forwards. We’re not going to reach the ends of the earth if we’re relying on a few specially anointed or gifted people. The good news is that the job was given to every ordinary, weak kind of person.”
Just imagine, each of us ordinary and variously gifted people getting on with sharing Jesus, making disciples and serving our communities. Not watching others do it or reading about it. Every believer in Jesus. Every single one of us. Whatever our personality, our skill set or gift mix, wherever we are and wherever we go we can participate in the mission of God. Bring your gifts, skills, resources, experience and, very importantly, your weakness to the table; God will put them to use.
Photo: Unsplash/Jed Villejo