Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Gift of Ministry

I am currently reading Daniel Jenkins’ The Gift of Ministry which offers some very interesting and perceptive comments about what ministry is and how it serves the church. Some of the language is not entirely appropriate as its reflects its time, rather than today’s perspectives, but, considering it was written around seventy years ago, being published in 1947, it has some remarkably relevant things to say.

Jenkins’ fundamental thought is that ministry is not ours, nor is it the church’s, but it is the ministry of Jesus. That is what we are called to offer. “The ministry is not an institution in its own right: it is the ministry of the Word of God in Jesus Christ” (p. 17). Jenkins builds on that as he emphasises the servant nature of Jesus’ ministry. “The whole office of the ministry is to be understood as the expression in the Church of this fundamental paradox – that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the King of all the earth, comes and establishes his kingly rule among men (sic) in the form, not of a king, but of a servant” (p. 20), adding that “the minister must accept the fact that he is indeed a minister and not a lord, and be content with the form of a servant“ (p. 23).

Ministry is a gift that is given by God. That thought is important and provides the book with its title. However, ministry is demonstrated as valid by following the model that Jesus provides and is a critical part of church life as it holds the role of keeping the church on track and being held to account.

Through the servant leadership of its ministers the church is able to engage in the mission to which it is called by God. So, we offer God’s love to the world. “The disciples of Jesus are to be servants and bondsmen to one another and servants and bondsmen of mankind (sic). Thus the community wanted by Christ exists out of plain love. The office in it is nothing but the working of this love” (p. 24).

So what kind of ministry do we see in our church(es)? Are we all about doing things correctly and being built up ourselves – or are we simply concerned to offer God’s love?

”What is required of us if we are to minister his healing touch is not therefore a correct spiritual pedigree, although in its place that may have its own value and importance, but that we should obey his will for his people and strive always to continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship and in prayer” (p. 54).

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