It’s interesting that many of us ministers see ourselves often as being on the front line. It’s not surprising then that many of our congregation aren’t as excited as they could be about sharing the gospel at work, school, in leisure activities and the rest of their daily lives.
In one sense those in the pastoral ministry have the most awesome privilege. We get to preach God’s word and to minister to the flock and spear-head the churches mission depending on our varying gifts. But there are many senses in which our work is behind the scenes work. In terms of mission, we are joining with the church members in their mission to their colleagues. Providing the pit stop. The place where they can refuel and feed on Christ on a Sunday.
It’s our job not to make the congregation think that they are coming on a Sunday to make our ministry effective, but that we are ministering to them in part at least to make their ministry effective. A ministry of every member, where people are fired up for Jesus and ready on a Monday to tell their friends. We have after all been sent into the world by Jesus (‘As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.’ John 17:18 )
I remember how in sixth form we would arrive into school after our regional youth meeting chomping at the bit to tell people the gospel. One time we even put posters up in the school common room, which as a youth worker I now see as a daring task! Why? Because we knew we had been equipped.
In 2 Timothy chapter 3:16-17 Paul says to Timothy ‘All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’
So we are in the business of equipping! The other day I was reminded of this. We’ve just got back from a camp for youth called Taunton 1 where we praise God for the fruit we saw in lives- some growing, others meeting Christ for the first time. It was an awesome privilege to serve on a wonderful team united in Christ, among wonderful young people. I was reminded and humbled by the response of some of the young people in a seminar I gave, who demonstrated a genuine love for their school and desire to reach their friends. I think we should remember the awesome nature of the work we have to do as preachers and teachers, but it strikes me also that we need to be looking outwards as well and not seeing preaching as an end in itself. The true sense of being servants of the church is to equip the church and part of that is remembering where the front line is.