We live in an age of the Church that is both highly exciting and singularly dangerous. It is exciting because, globally, the gospel is witnessing remarkable growth, and the international Churches a largely committed to Biblical doctrine; it is dangerous because some of the approaches to ministry are suspect at best and unbiblical at worst.

What is behind this explosion of ways to do ministry? For the most part, the motives driving each of the approaches are honorable and commendable. There is a desire to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ to see people saved, discipled, and equipped for ministry. There is a desire to engage the culture effectively with the impact of a Biblical worldview. There is a desire to carry out the cultural mandate, obey the great commandment, and fulfill the Great Commission, combining preaching the gospel with acts of mercy, seeking justice, and pursuing excellence in other arenas of society, such as the arts. For these motives, we rejoice.

However, the Trinitarian form of ministry involves a community of brothers and sisters and this fellowship is central to the being of God. The Church is the people of God the Father, the body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit and thus a community of persons. The knowledge of God wrought by the triune God has soteriological and community character. Church membership and eternal life are not possible without this basis of the mystery of the triune God.

The triune God is both one and three, being and relationships. This insight is applied in relation to the Church in two areas, the local and universal. The New Testament speaks not only of the Church but also of the Churches. By this is not meant denominations in our modern sense of the term, but the various ecclesiae, the various local communities wherever found. In this sense Churches represent the universal Church.

The essence of salvation, according to John Wesley, is “the happy and holycommunion which the faithful have with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”.

The clear teaching of the New Testament is that every person is to be involved in ministry because each person has a part to play; every person contributes by utilizing his or her spiritual gift. In his letter to the Church of Corinth, Paul writes. (1 Corinthians 12: 7, 11)

Developing moral character and ethical conduct is a difficult process all major books on ethics in ministry echo a common theme: the necessity for trustworthiness, prudence, truthfulness, and integrity in the life and vocation of the ordained. Developing these character traits is a daily discipline.

From Biblical times to the present, the moral character of the minister of the gospel was expected to be exemplary and “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2) 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.

Being a good minister has always meant more than just maintaining minimal standards. It is a calling to maximum discipleship. “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ,” asserted Paul (1 Corinthians 11:1). 

Ethics in ministry includes personal lifestyle, financial decisions, family commitments, ministerial responsibilities, congregational relationships, community involvement, and much more. Although a minister’s primary loyalty is to God, this devotion must never be an excuse for avoiding ministerial duties. Ministry involves both privilege and responsibility. A minister’s calling always must be fleshed out in some kind of community, usually a local congregation. I believe one cannot serve Christ without serving people, for to serve people is to serve Christ. (Matthew 25:31-46).

True ministry demands a “call” from God, a call which the individual fully understands and believes, even if he cannot explain or make it believable to someone else – a call that burns in the heart and consciousness of an individual, without letup, day and night, so fiercely that it cannot be ignored or extinguished.

Waiting for God’s call is one of the most spiritually challenging activities in the life of a minister. While much of our effort in our congregations is an expression of our attempts to be instruments of God, waiting for God’s call forces us to acknowledge that there is only so much we can do. Once we have addressed all possibilities to advance the search process, we must wait.

Why is it so difficult to be in touch with what makes one deeply glad? How hard can it be to have the sense of “Here I am where I ought to be”? Through our suffering, God wants us to increase our maturity in Christ.

Indeed, participating in God's mission to the world is not a fail-safe activity. It will involve many risks with much fear and trembling. But oh, the exhilaration of soaring like an eagle, borne up by the wind of the Spirit!

All these seven characteristics of Trinitarian ministry-relational personhood, joyful intimacy, glad surrender, complex simplicity, gracious self-acceptance, mutual indwelling and passionate mission-how can we not also exclaim: Oh, the satisfaction of ministry in the image of God! Oh, the joy of the ministry of Jesus Christ, to the Father, through the Holy Spirit, for the sake of the church and the world!

Throughout our life and ministry, may we always dwell in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen. (Some of the above material taken from the book of Stephen Seamand:  Ministry in the Image of God: The Trinitarian Shape of Christian Service)



Pastor Mark