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“The Purpose of Ministry”, written by Mark D. Roberts

What is the purpose of Christian ministry? What is the purpose of your ministry as one of Christ’s ministers?

There are many different ways to answer these questions. A pastor might say, “The purpose of my ministry is to win people to Christ and to grow my church.” A deacon might say, “The purpose of my ministry is to care for people.” A Sunday school teacher might say, “The purpose of my ministry is to help children understand the Bible.” A banker might say, “The purpose of my ministry is to be a faithful and just steward of the financial resources entrusted to me.” A mother might say, “The purpose of my ministry is to help my children grow up to maturity as Christians and as contributing members of society.”

All of these can be fine answers. But they can also miss the larger, deeper purpose of our work as ministers of Jesus Christ. Consider, for example, the purpose statement of Ephesians 4:11-13. This passage begins with Christ giving gifts of pastoral leaders to the church (4:7, 11). These leaders are to equip Christ’s people “for works of service” (4:12). Then we have an extensive and complicated purpose statement: “so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (4:12-13).

This passage deserves careful scrutiny, which I hope to provide in future reflections. For today, however, I want to step back and see the wider purpose of Christian ministry. This purpose includes: the building up of the body of Christ, which entails its unity and maturity. Notice that this purpose probably implies the numerical growth of the church, but it does not focus there. Rather, the building up of the body of Christ has to do primarily with its unity and maturity.

We’ll investigate further what this means. For now, however, I’d encourage you to think about your own life in relationship to the church as you consider the following questions.