Question: What is the work of the ministry described in Ephesians 4:11+12? In NASB it is called the work of service. What does that entail? How do we begin to get into that work?
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
The answer to the question is in the scripture. The work of the ministry is literally building up the body of Christ. This concept is two-fold. Firstly, we are called to help edify (literally build up) our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as seen in Hebrews 10:24-25. We do this by assembling together and joining in prayer, worship and growing together in knowledge of the word and then reminding and stirring each other up in these things. Let’s look here in Hebrews 10:24-25, “…let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Now that word forsake is really interesting and it’s something many Christians do often. Firstly forsake means to abandon. We can abandon our posts and our brothers and sisters in Christ when we don’t show up or when we don’t show up properly. Our hearts should be for the local church and for the people we are called to serve together with. Many Christians never even arrive at this place.
Now, another side of this concept of doing the work of the ministry and building up the body of Christ is fulfilling the great commission. Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” The work of the ministry is sharing the gospel and teaching others how to live the way God commanded.
So many times Christians are looking for a title or a position. They want a pulpit and only want to share their faith when it’s all set up and arranged for them. The only time they speak the gospel is around other Christians. The only thing they can think to do is get the sheep of the church together and recycle Christianity. This is why many churches experience church splits because often someone gets the idea that they want to lead people and they start with those in another pastor’s sheepfold. That’s not the work of the ministry, but rather counterproductive. The work of building up the body of Christ won’t be fulfilled without getting out into the community and those within your circle of influence.
So what is someone who loves the Lord and wants to do His will supposed to do? Start by getting connected to a local church who feeds you the Word of God without compromise. Next, find a place to offer your service within the church. If there’s a need, find it and offer help. If you’re asked to serve, do it. If you haven’t been asked to serve, truly make yourself available, not just in word or thought, but in deed and action. This seems to be a struggle for many people as service becomes common, routine or seemingly mundane. But routine is part of discipline and part of standing one’s post. God needs those in His body who won’t consider His work boring or mundane. God doesn’t need grass is greener on the other side Christians so try not to be one.
Besides this, let the Lord lead your daily life and allow Him to speak through you to bring the gospel to those within arms reach. Your job is your ministry. Your neighbors are your ministry. When you go throughout life, the people you encounter are “the nations” so to speak.
Stop making scripture confusing. Stop needing labels. Stop having to have some sort of goal for God. These are the world’s way. Your heart should be I don’t need to “enter ministry” but rather I live as a servant of the Lord and my life IS the ministry. Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”