Ministry is Service

Who sets up order and ministries within church?

None other than the Holy Spirit. “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). Since the Early Church, there have been overseers and deacons who served the body of Christ (1Timothy 3). The role of the overseer is to serve church through the Word of God and love. The modern day equivalent of the overseer would be the pastor.

In the Old Testament, the prophets are referred to as the mouthpiece of God. Just like the prophets, pastors are to be the mouth by which God speaks to His people. Therefore, the most important area of the church is the pulpit. It is like the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament. If corrupt words proceed from the pulpit, the entire church becomes corrupt. God regards as worthy and sanctifies the ministry of the pastor rather than his person. Church as the pillar and foundation of truth is strengthened only when the living and true Word of God is proclaimed by the pastor (1 Timothy 3:15). For this reason, the pastor must possess mature character. He must be neither extravagant nor lazy. Instead, he must be willing to embrace and teach others and further strive to study the Word and develop himself. The laity must also respect, pray for, and support their pastors.

In church, there are other ministries such as deacons and elders. The word deacon is derived from the Greek word diakonos meaning “thoroughly raise up dust by moving in a hurry, and so to minister.” This definition evokes the image of a servant moving about hurriedly to fulfill the needs of his master. All deacons are to raise up dust and move in a hurry to earnestly serve God for the ministry of deacon is service. In the Korean church tradition, first-time deacons serve their term for a year. Following the trial period of one year, they may be reappointed or revoked of their position depending on their service or lack thereof.

Another type of the ministry of deacon in the Korean church tradition is permanent diaconate, in which deacons are reappointed for their unparalleled service to church to fulfill their role permanently. There is another ministry peculiar to Korean Christianity called female eldership. Female elders are chosen from deaconesses who have rendered their commitment and dedication to church for years. Like mothers, they are to comfort and visit those in weakness, trials, and needs. In addition, they must intercede on behalf of and for others as well as serve church family. Elders provide an indispensable ministry by assisting pastors and overseeing the financial administration and the faithful of church. Moreover, as the representative of the entire congregation, they must promote unity between the pastor and the laity. Elders are appointed from those who boast a superior reputation for trustworthiness, faith, and virtues.

Regardless of its type, ministry engenders both honor and service: “will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!”(2 Corinthians 3:8-9). The ministry we currently participate in is the gift from God who sees us as faithful servants (1 Timothy 1:12). However small our ministry may appear to be, it is the most precious work for God: “Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the LORD’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them?”(Numbers 16:9). All lay ministers must avoid slanders and duplicity (1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 2:3). They must be well-mannered, truthful, and abstain from strong drinks. Just as the Nazirite were prohibited from getting near dead bodies according to their vows, those who participate in ministry are also required to safeguard their minds and faith against corruption (Numbers 6:6-7).

We must live for the dreams and visions of God rather than for worldly prestige. The most important function for ministers is to create peace in church. They have been called by God to protect and preserve church which Christ purchased with His own blood. Those who serve most are the perfect candidates for ministry. Pastors must serve the laity and church through the Word and love and the laity must fulfill the needs of church by rendering their finances, bodies, time, gifts, gratitude, and humility. Our ministry is the responsibility given by God for us to fulfill (Colossians 4:17). Ministry is service. Only when we serve first, we survive and church survives.

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