1. Expanding Your Concept of Ministry (2023)

Most of us think of ministry as the work done by pastors, missionaries, Christian conference speakers, or evangelists. We rarely think of work done by bankers, lawyers, engineers, or homemakers. We typically believe that those who get their paychecks from a church or other Christian organization are the ones who “do” ministry, while the rest of us are those to whom ministry is “done.” In this session and throughout this study, we hope to change this common but faulty way of thinking. We want to expand your vision of ministry so that you come to view all you do, regardless of your occupation, as what it can and ought to be—ministry that glorifies God and influences other people.

Session Aims

Individual Aim: To consider a more holistic concept of ministry and how it relates to your everyday life.

Group Aim: To think together about ways in which group members’ lives can become more ministry focused.


Read Session 1: Expanding Your Concept of Ministry.

Complete the Life Vision: Personal Inventory, Part I exercise beginning on page 77.

Complete Biblical Exercise: 1 Peter 4 beginning on page 25.


The idea that service to God should have only to do with a church altar, singing, reading, sacrifice, and the like is without doubt but the worst trick of the devil. How could the devil have led us more effectively astray than by the narrow conception that the service of God takes place only in the church and by works done therein.The whole world could abound with services to the Lordnot only in churches but also in the home, kitchen, workshop, and field.
––Martin Luther


The great reformer Martin Luther understood that ministry is more than just work done by pastors. Throughout this study, we will be using the term ministry in a way that is much broader than the way the term is usually used. Our definition of ministry is “the faithful service of God’s people rendered unto God and others on His behalf to bring Him glory, build up His church, and reach out to His world.” Let’s look at this definition in more detail.

The Faithful Service of God’s People

The Greek word in the New Testament that is often translated as “ministry” is diakonia. The basic meaning of this word is “service.” It can refer to tasks as basic as waiting tables (see Acts 6:1), caring for the poor through monetary gifts (see 2 Corinthians 9:12), or proclaiming the gospel (see Acts 20:24). The term is not limited to the service of a select few appointed to particular offices within the church. In fact, the exact opposite is the case. Paul said that those who hold offices in the church are given gifts for the purpose of enabling all of God’s people to do ministry:

It was he who 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 [diakonia], so that the body of Christ may be built up. (Ephesians 4:11-12)

The leaders of the church are not the only ones doing the work of service or ministry. The leaders are given to the church for the purpose of preparing every member to do the ministry––to render service to the Lord, to the church, and to the world.

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Rendered unto God

In our fast-paced, high-tech world, we often fail to recognize that God is intricately involved in the details of our lives. Yet not only is God involved in our humdrum routines, but He also wants us to be aware of and responsive to His presence:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31, emphasis added)

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17, emphasis added)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24, emphasis added)

Each of these exhortations from Paul’s letters uses the phrase “whatever you do.” This all-inclusive phrase points out that God wants to be prominent in our lives, in both the so-called “significant” things we do as well as the mundane things. We rarely think God is terribly concerned with our day-to-day activities in the boardroom, the classroom, or the laundry room, yet when our work is done “for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31), “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17), and “as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23), our work becomes an act of worship. Our work, however grand or trivial, becomes ministry.

And Others on His Behalf

The ultimate example of ministry is Jesus Christ Himself. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he told his readers that their attitude toward each other “should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Paul went on to describe the kind of attitude he was referring to:

[Christ Jesus], being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death––even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8)

Jesus set aside the glory due Him and took on the form of a slave. His entire life on earth, and ultimately His death on the cross, was others-oriented. Paul’s admonition to the Philippians and to all of us as Christians is to imitate this others-orientation. This is particularly challenging in our culture, which is consumed with self.

For example, this cultural preoccupation often dominates our view of the way we make a living. We often think of our jobs in terms of the financial benefits they provide for us and our families. This isn’t necessarily wrong, but we also ought to consider how our work can benefit others—either customers who benefit from our goods or services, or perhaps our coworkers, whose lives we can affect by serving them in times of need. If we are to imitate Jesus and thereby do the work of ministry to which we have all been called, we must learn to look at life with an others-orientation in our workplaces, our homes, our churches, and every other arena.

To Bring Him Glory

The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” If this confession is true of all of humanity collectively and of each human being individually, then it should also be true of the pieces that make up the whole of our lives—from the way we parent to the way we play, from the time we spend “on the clock” to the time we spend at the dinner table.

In the passage from 1 Corinthians quoted earlier, Paul said that activities as simple as eating and drinking can and should be done “for the glory of God” (10:31). God is glorified when we do anything with thankfulness, integrity, and our whole hearts. Thankfulness comes from a recognition that all we have and all we are able to accomplish comes from God. We fail to be thankful and to glorify God when we act and think as though we are self-sufficient rather than utterly dependent on Him.

Likewise, we live with integrity when our thoughts and actions are consistent with God’s ethical intentions for His people. We compromise our integrity when our desires conflict with God’s intentions.

Wholeheartedness means focusing on giving our best in all we do, not for the accolades we might receive but out of a desire to do what we do as unto Christ (see Colossians 3:23). As we go about our daily tasks with thankfulness, integrity, and wholeheartedness, God sees and is pleased. Others see and His reputation is enhanced—He is glorified. When we seek to glorify God in all we do, all we do becomes ministry.

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Build Up His Church

Each of us has a special responsibility and has been uniquely gifted to minister to others. In his book Redeeming the Routines, theologian Robert Banks likens the coming together of believers in a local church to the gathering of children for a birthday party. Everyone brings a gift; the only difference is that in the church, the gifts aren’t for one person but for everyone.

The New Testament makes it clear that all who have been born of the Spirit have been endowed with a spiritual gift (or perhaps multiple gifts). The main point of the New Testament discussion of spiritual gifts is that each of us, as individual members of the body, needs the contribution of the entire body and conversely the entire body needs the contribution of each individual member. Each of us in the body of Christ has needs, and each has something to contribute to others’ needs.

As we come to see that as Christians we are all called to do ministry, we ought to reflect upon how God has designed and gifted us to build up His church. We will visit this issue of design and giftedness again in later sessions.

And Reach Out to His World

In the book of Genesis, God gave a set of covenant promises to Abraham and his descendants. He promised that He would bless them and that through them He would bless “all peoples on earth” (Genesis 12:3; 28:14). Throughout Old Testament times, God wanted His people to be a missionary people who would visibly demonstrate to the pagan world around them that the Lord alone was the one true God. As God’s beloved people, Israel had both a blessing and a purpose––to make God known to the world. Psalm 67 captures these two themes of blessing and purpose:

May God be gracious to us and bless us

and make his face shine upon us,

that your ways may be known on earth,

your salvation among all nations.

May the peoples praise you, O God;

may all the peoples praise you.

May the nations be glad and sing for joy,

for you rule the peoples justly

and guide the nations of the earth.

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May the peoples praise you, O God;

may all the peoples praise you.

Then the land will yield its harvest,

and God, our God, will bless us.

God will bless us,

and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

These same themes of blessing and purpose apply to Christians as well. We have been richly blessed through Christ and have been given a responsibility to spread the good news of His life, death, and resurrection. This is not a job reserved for a select few; it is God’s purpose for every Christian. Certainly God has uniquely designed some to take the message of Christ to people in the far reaches of the world, but all of us have our own “mission fields” in our homes, neighborhoods, places of employment, and the like. It is our responsibility to spread the gospel with our words and live out the gospel with our lives.


In his book The Other Six Days, R. Paul Stevens writes,

Throughout most of its history the church has been composed of two categories of people, those who are ministers and those who are not. Ministry has been defined as what the pastor does, not in terms of being servants of God and God’s purposes in the marketplace, the church, the home, the school or professional office. Going into “the Lord’s work” means becoming a pastor or a missionary, not being coworkers with God in his creating, sustaining, redeeming and consummating work both in the church and in the world.

Our goal in this session and throughout this study is to present a different view of ministry, one more consistent with the teaching of Scripture. We do “the Lord’s work” when we do whatever we do for the glory of God and the good of others.

Biblical Exercise: 1 Peter 4

Read 1 Peter 4:1-11. Also, review “A Method for the Biblical Exercises” beginning on page 17.

Observation—“What Do I See?”

1. Who are the persons (including God) in the passage? What is the condition of those persons?

2. What subjects did Peter discuss in the passage? What did he assert?

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3. Note the sequence in which Peter made these assertions. (You might number them in order.)

4. What did Peter emphasize? Are there repeated ideas and themes? How are the various parts related?

5. Why did Peter write this passage? (Did he say anything about ways he expected the reader to change after reading it?)

Interpretation Phase 1—“What Did It Mean Then?”

1. Coming to Terms—Are there any words in the passage that you don’t understand? Write down anything you found confusing about the passage.

2. Finding Where It Fits—What clues does the Bible give about the meaning of this passage?

  • Immediate Context (the passage being studied)
  • Remote Context (passages that come before and after the one being studied)

3. Getting into Their Sandals—An Exercise in Imagination

  • What are the main points of this passage? Summarize or write an outline of it.
  • What do you think the recipients of the letter were supposed to take from this passage? How did God, inspiring Peter to write this letter, want this passage to impact readers?

Interpretation Phase 2—“What Does It Mean Now?”

1. What is the timeless truth in the passage? In one or two sentences, write down what you learned about God from 1 Peter 4.

2. How does that truth work today?

Application—“What Can I Do to Make This Truth Real?”

1. What can I do to make it real for myself?

2. For my family?

3. For my friends?

4. For the people who live near me?

5. For the rest of the world?

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Read Session 2: Ours for Others.

Complete the Life Vision: Personal Inventory, Part II exercise beginning on page 83.


What is the concept of ministry? ›

The biblical concept of ministry includes not only God's general call to all of his people to be servants and witnesses, but also a personal or indi- vidual call to some to be leaders among his people.

What are some examples of ministry? ›

5 Essential Ministries Every Church Needs
  • Which 5 ministries does my church need?
  • #1. Guest Services.
  • #2. Preaching/Teaching.
  • #3. International Outreach.
  • #4. Children's Ministry.
  • #5. Praise and Worship.
Oct 18, 2021

How do you develop a ministry? ›

10 Ways to Improve Your Ministry Today
  1. Agree up front to be obedient to God. ...
  2. Get over yourself. ...
  3. Teach with clarity and relevance. ...
  4. Take the gospel to non-believers. ...
  5. Develop gospel sensitivity to others. ...
  6. Take somebody with you when you do ministry. ...
  7. Invest in 2-3 others. ...
  8. Release others, and then hold them accountable.
May 24, 2017

How do you expand spiritually? ›

Here are five tips on how to be more spiritually aware.
  1. Start a Daily Meditation Practice. One of the most effective ways of becoming more spiritually aware is to have a daily meditation practice. ...
  2. Cultivate Emotional Intelligence. ...
  3. Practice Self-Love. ...
  4. Connect More Deeply with Others. ...
  5. Cultivate Gratitude.
Feb 22, 2019

What makes an effective ministry? ›

Effective ministry is built on the supernatural power of the gospel. Our preaching should not become bogged down in personal opinion or theological minutia. Of all the things we must do, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ clearly is our primary task.

What are core values in ministry? ›

What are core values? In short, core values are principles that undergird, influence and clarify what a church does, and how it does it. They provide boundaries and parameters around the mission, leadership and ministry philosophy, priorities and strategy.

What are the five areas of ministry? ›

  • Guidelines for Ministry Practice.
  • Contextual Education II.
  • Leadership and Administration.
  • Gathering, Proclamation, and Engagement.
  • Pastoral Care and Community Care.
  • Outreach, Mission, and Advocacy.
  • Religious Education and Spiritual Formation.

What does ministry mean biblically? ›

Ministry means serving in the function of a priest by offering up “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God.” Ministry. The Bible addresses this important theme several dozen times. The Old and New Testaments speak about it at length. Prominent individuals and groups are called ministers throughout Scripture.

What are the skills in ministry? ›

-- Click on the skills listed below for training in that area:
  • assessing.
  • coordinating.
  • delegating.
  • goal-setting & vision casting.
  • managing conflict.
  • strategic planning.
  • organizing.
  • staffing.

What is your ministry in church? ›

ministry, in Christianity, the office held by persons who are set apart by ecclesiastical authority to be ministers in the church or whose call to special vocational service in a church is afforded some measure of general recognition. The type of ministry varies in the different churches.

What are the 3 ministries of the church? ›

The doctrine states that Jesus Christ performed three functions (or "offices") in his earthly ministry – those of prophet, priest, and king.
  • 1.1 Prophet.
  • 1.2 Priest.
  • 1.3 King.

What makes a good minister of God? ›

Effective ministers must be men and women of possibility thinking faith. They must have positive outlook. They must possess the mentality that nothing is impossible with God. They must reject negative mindset of doubt, fear, worry, anxiety and unbelief.

What does it mean to expand spiritually? ›

Expansion on a spiritual level means that you have let go of enough unconscious contraction to be present to the here and now. When that starts to happen you start being conscious of, for example, the touch of the fingers on the keyboard when you type.

How can a church grow spiritually? ›

#2 – Spiritual growth happens when the people in the church come to love and follow Jesus. People in the church should grow to love the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength and take intentional steps to obey his commands. That's what discipleship looks like.

What are the 5 most important values? ›

Good luck and let me know how it's going on your journey!
  1. Honesty. Honesty should be the bedrock of your foundation, as it will define who you are before you even allow others to know more about you. ...
  2. Fire. ...
  3. Hard Work. ...
  4. Confidence. ...
  5. Perseverance.
Apr 28, 2017

What are the 3 main values? ›

Freedom, equality, and justice are the big three core values that Americans share.

What are 3 key values? ›

Integrity, kindness, honesty, and financial security are typical examples of personal core values. Others often see these values as your character traits. For example, someone is known for always doing the right thing likely values integrity.

What are the five ministries of God? ›

The concept of the five-fold ministry comes from Ephesians 4:11, "It was He (Jesus) who gave some to be (1) apostles, some to be (2) prophets, some to be (3) evangelists, and some to be (4) pastors and (5) teachers."

How many types of ministry are there? ›

There are a total of 58 union ministries and 93 departments that are headed by the Cabinet Ministers.

What is the first ministry in the Bible? ›

That you would see your marriage as your first ministry. Again, we're not saying your only ministry. But it's your first ministry. It's the first person God's given you to practice the things that God's told us to be in this world.

Why is ministry important to God? ›

Therefore, ministry is what we do for God's glory based on where He has placed us, how He has gifted us, and what He has called us to do according to His infinite wisdom and for the proclamation of the gospel.

What does it mean to be ministry minded? ›

Ministry-minded millennials walk in the Spirit.

They guard their spirit from anger and contention. They deny the flesh and walk in the Spirit. Invariably, this will result in peace and joy. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.— Galatians 5:25.

What characteristics should a minister have? ›

10 qualities every pastor should possess
  • A deep love and burden for people and souls.
  • A clear, personal love for Jesus.
  • A warmth in personality that people respond to well.
  • A unique ability to understand and explain God's Word.
  • An ability to emotionally engage people both public and private.
  • A clear communicator.
Apr 9, 2020

What is my personal ministry? ›

What is personal ministry all about? Here's a working definition: Personal ministry involves forming a loving relationship with another individual with the aim of mutual growth in Christian understanding, obedience and service of others.

How to do ministry work? ›

How to develop a ministry career
  1. Choose a denomination. Research the different branches of Christianity so you can choose the one you want to join. ...
  2. Plan a career path. Ponder your interests to establish what ministry job you desire. ...
  3. Pursue education. ...
  4. Gain practical experience. ...
  5. Seek a mentor. ...
  6. Take time to reflect.
Sep 2, 2021

What are the four ministries and their purposes? ›

The Ministry names and functions are as follows: The Ministry of Truth, which regulates all forms of media, entertainment, and arts; the Ministry of Peace, which presides over all aspects of war; the Ministry of Love, which is a form of judicial system; and the Ministry of Plenty, which governs economic affairs.

How do you become a powerful minister? ›

Six Steps to Excellence in Ministry
  1. Step No. 1: Be Dedicated to Excellence in Ministry. ...
  2. Step No. 2: Have Singleness of Purpose. ...
  3. Step No. 3: Follow the Leadership of the Holy Spirit. ...
  4. Step No. 4: Strip Away the Things of the World. ...
  5. Step No. 5: Look to the Word of God Day and Night. ...
  6. Step No. 6: Spend Time Fasting.
Oct 10, 2018

What does success in ministry look like? ›

Success in ministry is when we have faithfully proclaimed God's word and pointed people to a life of discipleship and obedience to Christ, whether to 10, 100, 1000, or 10,000. We often forget that God views things differently from the world. The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

How can I promote my church ministry? ›

Organic Marketing Ideas for Churches
  1. Promotional Materials. Use your graphics and get material printed to give or sell to church attendees. ...
  2. Advertising. Coming up with a simple ad with information about your location and service times is always a good way to reach people. ...
  3. Community Events. ...
  4. Welcome Your Guests. ...
  5. Word of Mouth.
Oct 16, 2017

How can I attract more people to my church? ›

  1. Equip People to Invite Others. It's important for leaders to focus on ways to grow the church, but they can't do it alone. ...
  2. Make Sure Your Church Can Be Found Online. ...
  3. Host Community Outreach Days + Other Public Events. ...
  4. Live Stream Church Services Online. ...
  5. Challenge People to Serve + Volunteer.
Nov 30, 2022

What are some strengths in ministry? ›

Do You Have These 10 Traits and Skills Needed for Ministry Jobs?
  • Spiritual Gifts. All Christians have spiritual gifts. ...
  • A Vibrant Faith. ...
  • Personal Skills. ...
  • Transferable Skills. ...
  • Content Skills. ...
  • An Understanding of Weaknesses. ...
  • An Understanding of Primary and Secondary Callings. ...
  • A Passion to Share the Gospel.
Feb 22, 2021

What is the key to church growth? ›

Healthy churches grow. They grow stronger through worship, warmer through fellowship, deeper through discipleship, and broader through ministry. And they also grow larger through evangelism. Healthy churches follow Jesus' pattern by reaching out to new people with the Gospel.

How do you improve church morale? ›

Let's put it this way: Morale is low.
5 Ways to Boost Church Staff Morale
  1. Tell Stories. Good things are happening through the ministry of your church. ...
  2. Be a CEO. ...
  3. Do Something Fun. ...
  4. Encourage and Model Rest. ...
  5. Food Helps.
Oct 21, 2021

What are the three important ministries of Jesus? ›

The doctrine states that Jesus Christ performed three functions (or "offices") in his earthly ministry – those of prophet, priest, and king.

How do you motivate people to serve at church? ›

How to Encourage Church Members to Serve & Volunteer
  1. Talk about the Benefits We Receive from Service to Others.
  2. Get Them Thinking by Asking Them Questions.
  3. Host Fun Events to Get Their Toes Wet.
  4. Express the Impact Your Missions Make.
  5. Make Members Aware of Service Opportunities.
  6. Offer Training.
Jul 27, 2022

What drives your church? ›

Warren writes that every church is driven by something. Tradition, finances, programs, personalities, events, seekers and even buildings can each be the controlling force in a church.

How do you build a strong relationship in the church? ›

Four Essentials for Healthy Church Relationships
  1. Don't just go. Get involved. ...
  2. Maintain a loving attitude. Attitude is the combination of heart and mind. ...
  3. Pursue loving actions. Anything you are doing with or for a person within your church body should be characterized by love. ...
  4. Speak loving words.
Feb 11, 2020

What are three greatest strengths? ›

You can say that your greatest strength is: Creativity. Originality. Open-mindedness.

What are 3 strengths examples? ›

Some examples of strengths you might mention include:
  • Enthusiasm.
  • Trustworthiness.
  • Creativity.
  • Discipline.
  • Patience.
  • Respectfulness.
  • Determination.
  • Dedication.

What makes a church grow spiritually? ›

Biblical teaching, an outward focus, and a strong vision or mission were the most common answers in the June Evangelical Leaders Survey. “Some say churches must have a dynamic pastor or an engaging worship band or the best technology for them to grow,” NAE President Leith Anderson said.

What are the three stages of the growth of the church? ›

  • 1.1 Militant.
  • 1.2 Penitent.
  • 1.3 Triumphant.

What does it mean to grow spiritually? ›

Spiritual growth is defined as, “the process of developing self-identity, nurturing meaningful relationships with others and/or with a higher power, communing with nature, and recognizing transcendence and unity.”


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