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Atlanta, 20 April 2016

The final study in the current series is Ministry. What is ministry? Who's in it? How is it different from other work? Why focus here? We're seeking the biblical perspective.

Ministry can refer to political as well as to religious work. For example, the prime minister isn't an archbishop, but the head of government, at least in many countries. During the nine years I lived in the U.K., I'd sometimes fail to be clear. When learning that I was "in the ministry," people would ask, "Which department?" (Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Defence, etc). Well, since I'm an American, obviously I wasn't serving in the British government, yet I was serving on staff for the church we planted in London back in 1982. We were evangelists, interns, and women's ministry leaders.

Now before we get any deeper into our study, let me be clear from the outset: We deeply need men and women who are willing to serve as full-time, paid church workers. Ministry staff play a vital role. In most places they are overworked and under-appreciated. I have the greatest respect for the talented men and women who have foregone rewarding careers in order to serve the Lord in this way.

Who's in the Ministry?

The questions we need to address this series:
  • Who is in the ministry?
  • What is ministry?
  • Why is what we call it so important?
As a new believer I was taught that every Christian is in the ministry. Three passages frequently referenced were 2 Cor 5:18-6:1 (ministry of reconciliation, ambassadors for Christ, God's fellow-workers), 1 Pet 2:9 (no priest class in the N.T., since we're all a royal priesthood), and Luke 9:23 (everybody is called to discipleship, not just church staff). Strong emphasis was placed on total commitment, and that goes out the window when people have a choice between doing the work and simply spectating. I would imagine that nearly all my readers agree that the double-standard prevalent in popular Christianity is both unhealthy and unbiblical.

Some believers feel uneasy when "ministry" is the topic; they may feel more comfortable with the lingo of discipleship. Here nearly the same point would be made: Just as every true Christian is a disciple of Christ (Acts 11:26; Matt 28:19-20), every Christian is also in the ministry.

How about you? Are you in the ministry? If you want to be a Christian, you'd better be! Next week we'll work toward a definition of ministry (the "what?"). And the following week we'll discuss the implications (the "why?" of this series).
Another new book has been released by Illumination Publishers. It is The Lion Has Roared. Amos is one of the oldest prophets, with a strong word for those benefiting by the oppression of the poor. And yet it's not just materialism that the prophet of Tekoa challenges. There's something here for all of us! 

The book is short, compact, and easily adapted for teaching. In fact, in June our local church is offering a 6-part series based The Lion Has Roared.

Note: the book evolved from an earlier audio series. Finally, AIM produced an even beefier video course on Amos, taught by Tom Jones (Nashville), Joey Harris (Augusta), and me. Another note: The book is only distantly related to my friend Mike Taliaferro's The Lion Never Sleeps -- the other small volume with the king of the beasts on the cover. (His book is great for new believers; mine is more suited for those familiar with the O.T.)

Thank you

Your love for God's word, interest in learning, and support for the teaching ministry are all much appreciated. Until next week . . .

In His grip,
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