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Other Articles by Frank Decenso Jr.

Experience the Presence of God: Be Accepted

Experience the Presence of God: Be Aware

Experience the Presence of God: Be Active

Experience the Presence of God: Be Alert

The Relevantly Potent Gospel: The Real Good News

The Relevantly Potent Gospel: The Message

The Relevantly Potent Gospel: The Evidence

The Ministry Model of Jesus: Part One

The Ministry Model of Jesus: Part Two

 
CHRISTIAN WALK

Who, Me? Minister?

By Frank A. Decenso Jr.
Guest Writer

CBN.com -- Many Christians believe that because they do not have a seminary degree or the title of ‘recognized clergy’ they do not have much to offer in the building of the church and the expansion of God’s kingdom.

  • “How can I minister to those in my church? I’m a 'nobody'.”
  • “How can God use me to bring salvation and healing to my friends and neighbors?”
  • “Why would God use an untrained individual like me to help folks learn about the Lord?"
  • “What do I have to offer the world? I’m not as educated as he is. I’m not as gifted as she is.”

A similar question was asked about Jesus –

John 1:45-46
45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." 46And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see" [emphasis added].

Today the question may be, “Can anything good come out of me, since I have not had any theological training and I am not a cell group facilitator?” Perhaps someone may even ask you, "How can you minister? You are not a 'church leader.' You don’t hold a Bible degree."

The answer to these questions, whether internally pondered or externally received, should be, “'Come and see' what God can do through me! I can minister in the church! I can reach the lost with the gospel!”

In this article, I will briefly explore God's desire for all Christians to participate in ministry, whether in a church community setting or out in the world among unbelievers. I especially hope to encourage those who think they are not prepared enough to minister.

IN THE CHURCH/BODY OF CHRIST

As individual Christians, we should realize that since God the Holy Spirit dwells in us, He can use any of us. There are lists1 of gifts2 in the New Testament, but “spectatorship” is not in any of them. The church cannot flourish with spectators; it can only grow when each member of the body of Christ performs his or her particular function:


Romans 12:4-5 (New Living Translation)
4Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5so it is with Christ's body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others [emphasis added].

The body of Christ will only function as God designed it to function when we each do what we are gifted and called to do. The Holy Spirit is our companion in ministry - He will reveal to us what part we have to play in the church, and He will show us how to use our gifts and callings. We just have to allow Him to.

Still, some doubts may come regarding our ministries and the ministries of others. Paul addressed these problematic attitudes.

Doubts About Our Ministries

1 Corinthians 12:15-17
15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling [emphasis added]?

In addressing those believers who did not think they had a part to play in the church, Paul made it clear that they did. An eye can't hear and an ear can't see. As part of the body of Christ, you have a very specific function in its activity, development, and growth. Paul informed us in Ephesians 4:16, “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (NIV, emphasis added). Only you can do the functional work God has called you to do. The pastor can’t do it for you, nor can your cell group do it in place of you.

Moreover, God will equip and train you not to do someone else's work, but rather, the very specific task that He's placed you in the body to do. The following verses from 1 Corinthians 12 indicate His creative role in the construction of the church and, by inference, your task in it:

1 Corinthians 12:18, 24, and 28

  • 18God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
  • 24God composed the body
  • 28God has appointed these in the church


He is the Potter of the church created with human clay.

Since God is responsible for the assembly of the church body, He not only chooses the functions for individual members, but He also gives the grace that enables the members to minister in their functional roles:

1 Corinthians 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me [emphasis added].

1 Peter 4:10-11
10As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen [emphasis added].


Never forget that you are as indispensable to the church's growth as everyone else is because God has called you to a specific, critical mission. Without you, that mission may not get accomplished properly.

Doubts About the Ministries of Others


1 Corinthians 12:20-22
20But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary [emphasis added].

Another potential problem in the church that Paul addressed is that some members of the body may think more highly of themselves than others. Paul made it clear that we need each other. Even he needed helpers3. In the body of Christ, nonessential members do not exist. No one person has all of the gifts necessary for the church to grow. Nor does anyone member have all that is necessary to mature alone as a Christian. Individual members of the body maturate best in the fertile ground of community.

With these truths in mind, when can we expect the Lord to use us in our ministries?

1 Corinthians 14:26
How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification [emphasis added].


Paul said, “Whenever you come together,” there should be a mutual sharing of gifts and blessings from all the believers. This should include church services, but some services may be so rigid that the mutuality of body life advocated by Paul is not possible there.

However, even if it were possible there, home groups or cell groups are probably the best environment to grow in your ministry. In the context of intimate, small gatherings, trust is developed among the participants, and you can develop your giftings over time without the fear of failure.

IN THE WORLD

Matthew 28:18-20
18And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

There are no absentee slips to get out of participating in the Great Commission that Jesus gave us in Matthew. Every believer is to assist in the advancement of God’s kingdom in this world. When we humble ourselves before Him and make ourselves available to Him, He will surprise us in what He will do through us.

This world can never be adequately loved, evangelized, healed, and touched only by those who have seminary degrees, are recognized clergy, or who have been Christians for more years than they can count. However, when all Christians realize that they have nothing to offer except that which the Lord gives them, and they step out to minister with His equipping, then this world will be radically reached.

Peter and John's healing of the lame man provides a good example:


Acts 3:1-8, 11-12
1Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; 3who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. 4And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, "Look at us." 5So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." 7And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them--walking, leaping, and praising God.

11Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon's, greatly amazed. 12So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk [emphasis added]?

Acts 4:10,13
10let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.

13Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus [emphasis added].

Jesus took twelve folks, including the fishermen Peter and John, "uneducated and untrained" in the religious realm, and He taught them how to minister by showing them. As a result, their ministry brought healing to a man lame from birth. In addition, throughout the book of Acts, multitudes were saved and healed by believers who had never spent a day in seminary and were not ordained by any denomination or recognized religious group.

The authorities of that day realized Peter and John "had been with Jesus." Today, Jesus wants to travel along with us as we navigate the roads of life. When we engage the world around us with a hearing ear and a watchful spirit, the Lord will train us with great clarity to minister to the occupants of this planet.

Reading the Gospels is another way to acquire this training from Jesus. As you read the Gospels, ask Him to show you how to do the works that He did4. Read the Gospels with a teachable spirit and watch as He ministers to people -- the sick, the lame, the demonized, and the broken. Write down what He teaches you as you read. Then practice it. He will train you to minister by partnering with you in ministry activities.

Now, how He trains you to reach this world may be very different from how He trains me. We should not minister to others based alone on how we have seen others operate. We can learn valuable ministry principles from them and those principles can be effectively applied in our ministries. However, Jesus wants to partner with us individually in unique ways to reach the world with His love. Allow Him to mold you into the unique gift to this dying world that He created you to be.

In conclusion, let’s begin to step out in faith in our churches and neighborhoods, with our families and friends, and allow God to train us how to minister. We can all begin by simply praying, “Lord, show me and train me in how to bring Your kingdom to those who need You.” Then go and "do the stuff." The church will not grow without each of us participating. And the world cannot afford for us to wait until we feel ready.


1 Many scholars believe the lists of gifts in the New Testament are unlikely to be exhaustive.

2 See Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 28-31.

3 For example, see Philippians 2:25 and 2 Timothy 4:11.

4 See John 14:12.

Copyright © 2005 by Frank A. DeCenso Jr. All verses NKJV unless otherwise noted.

Frank has been teaching the Bible in churches and other venues for more than 20 years. He is currently the Ministry Resources Director at Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Virginia Beach, Va. He is an employee at Regent University in the Information Technology Department. Frank is married and lives in Virginia Beach.

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