Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What is the Purpose of "Ministry"?

The following article from The School of Christ was sent to me this morning and I am sharing it here in case it also edifies others.

Before getting into the article however, I must share that there is a movement in the churchworld to get others out of what is called the "institutionalized church" (IC).  While I completely agree that the experience of false religion can be a deceiving counterfeit for actual relationship with the Lord, the problem itself is not organized church.

In fact, the religious spirit of deception, legalism, bondage, compromise, and control exists primarily in the hearts of men.  So when such leave the "IC", they simply take that same defiling spirit with them, starting up or joining "ministries" which bear the same deadly trademarks of that which they claim to fight against; binding people to themselves as if allegiance & loyalty to them defines one's relationship with Christ.

God has ordained fellowship amongst the brethren as an important part of our growth and maturation in the faith.  It is an opportunity to encourage, refresh, and strengthen each other in the Lord.  We should never let a few bad seeds (or even many) cause us to reject the whole counsel of God in this area.  If God indicates that it is important for the saints to gather together, then it is (Acts 2:42; Hebrews 10:25; I Thessalonians 5:11).

Whether you are part of an organized church, a home church, a bible study group, or are currently seeking Godly fellowship, we each remain responsible for making our own calling and election sure.  True freedom in Christ is only experienced because we are fully and completely committed to being attached to Him first.  It is only then that we can join in fellowship with others without feeling as if such community threatens our identity in Christ.

There are Babylonian systems and ministers set-up to keep you from Christ.  However, following Him first and submitting to His guidance will keep you wise, even about those.  If we are to truly be free, we must be free within.  There is nothing from outside of a man which defiles him.

With that said, it is important to understand what the standards are for Godly ministry and ensure that we are equipped to recognize and participate in such.  Remember, we are the let's start being the church and not just have it be a verbal confession.  God gives us countless opportunities to minister to others each day.  If our hearts are yielded to Him, we will not let them be wasted.

The Perfecting of the Saints

“And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13)

For what purpose did God give apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers? Verse 12 tells us they are for “the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ”. This, of course, does not mean that the saints are supposed to be perfect in the sense that they never make a mistake or can do no wrong. “Perfection” here means “maturity”, and it would be good to simply remember that whenever we see the word “perfect” used in this context we should think “spiritually mature”.

The perfecting of the saints means the maturing of the saints, the process of bringing the saints out of spiritual immaturity and into spiritual adulthood. This is the purpose for the ministry gifts. We are not born fully-grown; we must “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18a). In Biblical language, to be “perfect” is to be fully developed. For instance, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9ff). What does this mean? “My strength is matured through your weakness, and is fully developed in the one who comes to the end of his natural strength.

After more than twenty years of Christian experience, Paul explains that he has neither attained, nor is he already perfect (cf. Philippians 3:12a). Clearly he expects to be perfect one day, but he has not yet attained it. But to what is he attaining to? Sinless perfection? No. He is striving for spiritual maturity, which he defines as an experiential, intimate, fully-developed relationship with Jesus Christ (“to know Him”). Then he says everyone who is perfect (that is, spiritually mature), will be like-minded in their pursuit of knowing Christ.

Paul says he preaches Christ: “…warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:28). This, in essence, is the purpose of all ministry, whether it is the ministry of an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher. It is to preach CHRIST, and to bring all men into a spiritually mature relationship with Him. Christ is at the heart of everything; He is at the center of all activity; we begin with Him and we end with Him.

When we are introduced to a new ministry and we wish to test its authenticity and spiritual value, we need only ask ourselves two questions: is this ministry centered upon Jesus Christ, and does it bring people into a deeper, more experiential knowing of Him?

If we wish to evaluate someone who claims to be an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher, we can apply the same test: is this person centered on Jesus Christ? And when they do whatever it is that they do (preach, teach, prophesy, sing, plant churches, etc.), does it bring people into a deeper, more experiential knowing of Him?

Some may think that kind of test is too severe. Why, if we applied this criteria to every minister and ministry in the world (they say) then we would probably disqualify a majority of workers and works that are doing the Church and mankind a great service. Yes, we probably would. Yet in terms of value to the Kingdom of God, if the work is not Christ-centered and does nothing to bring people into a mature relationship with Him then it has no value to God and is worthless in His sight. If we are not preaching Christ then we are preaching something or someone else; and if we are not bringing people into the depths of Jesus with our life and work then we are either leaving them as they are or leaving them worse than when we found them. We become a distraction and a hindrance to the spiritual growth of others.

If the minister or the ministry does not preach Christ, and does not bring people into spiritual maturity, then they fulfill the opposite of God’s intention – they make themselves the center and make the people dependent upon them, guaranteeing the spiritual immaturity of those affiliated with them. A congregation that is dependent upon its pastor to hear from God for them, deliver a message to them, pray for their needs, and take responsibility for their own spiritual growth is doomed to infancy and spiritual immaturity. If the pastor accepts this situation then he reinforces the congregation’s dependency upon himself. Instead of pointing them to Christ as their Shepherd and getting them to stand on their own, he becomes their surrogate mother. Unfortunately, this is precisely where many churches are today. “We leave the spiritual work to the pastor, while we attend the services.”

The prophetic ministry is just as guilty. The “prophet” or “prophetess” and their “word” becomes the focus of everything; and instead of bringing people to Christ and teaching them how to hear from the Lord on their own, they take responsibility for giving them messages from God. So now people are passively depending on the prophetic ministry for direction, instead of growing up into Christ and developing their own discernment and ability to hear His still, small voice. I read recently of a “prophet” who claimed to give personal words of prophecy to over five hundred people in the course of a week. I do not have to know what was said to know that this person’s idea of a “prophetic ministry” will only keep people spiritual dull and incapable of hearing from God on their own. Why should they develop any kind of spiritual sense when they can have a “prophet” come and give them a “word” whenever they like?

Just because we CAN give a word does not mean that we SHOULD give a word. The goal is not to give people a word, but to give them CHRIST as their Word. Or to put it another way, the goal of ministry is not to give people a loaf of bread every day, but to show them how to obtain all the bread they wish in CHRIST who is the Bread of Life. Do you see the difference? If my entire goal is to give people a sermon every week or a prophetic word every day then both I and they will fall far short of God’s Purpose, which is spiritual maturity and knowing Christ experientially. If the crowd is coming to me for a loaf of bread every time they get hungry then they are dependent upon me to feed them. This is only acceptable so long as they are children who cannot feed themselves. But if I show them where to get bread on their own then they will not have to come to me anymore: and THAT is the goal. Then they can get nourished directly from the source, Who is Christ Himself. The truth is that selling loaves of bread is big business, and a ministry whose survival depends on selling loaves actually WANTS the people to come back to them over and over again to be fed!

May we see before God that CHRIST is the object and the reason for all ministry. Our goal is not to see anyone become dependent upon us, our ministry, our work, or our word; our goal is not to give them a loaf, but rather, to encourage them to go experience the depths of Jesus Christ experientially and personally – to show them where the Bread of Life is.


  1. I left "The modern day assembly". I did this when I repented and turned away from my sins which the church never really told me about. I have been to many denominations that teach false doctrine and bondage that lead you to the pit! Anyways one thing I am making sure of is that I do not go off and start my own thing thinking that it is right and true. I am allowing God to lead me to like minded Christians who believe in the word of God and does what it says! It is important to come together and edify each other but the apostasy is great and there are few around who believe in the word of God whole heartedly and I am talking about the church.


  2. Timely message. I've come to find that when you point people to Christ instead of listening to ALL the issue going on that those who don't desire to be set free, delivered or desire others to be free, a division comes mainly through anger.

    Let's just get to Christ and let Him lead us where He desires. Just get to Jesus. So many things have been setup to keep people from Christ and the most dangerous ones are cloaking as getting you to Him.

  3. This is the best blog I have ever seen you write. It is not merely enough to point people to the wrong in the apostate churches, if CHRIST IS NOT THE CENTER OF WHY YOU ARE DOING IT IT IS IN VAIN!

    A very wise sister echoed the same sentiments to me, the ungodly structure of many IC's come right out of the vain imaginations of SINFUL MANKIND. Yep IC's have issues, and the issue are the PEOPLE who continue to hold these ungodly structure up to exaltation instead of Christ.

    God spoke to my heart, and he has let me know that many (not all) people who speak out against the IC have let a root of bitterness spring up... and in the case of many of these "ministries" they have defiled many because of their holding on to aught against their brother/sister. This is a forgiveness issue. How can you minister to those you don't love? I will continue to talk about the IC, HOWEVER if CHRIST BE NOT GLORIFIED IN WHAT I AM DOING LET IT COME TO RUIN. He must be the foundation for what we are doing, and let every motive contrary to God's glory be trampled down.

    God bless you sister!

  4. Both articles are something that every born-again believer should read. It can be easy for the Christian to get caught up in self when they see the impact their God-given gift has on people and they don't have their flesh under subjection. Remember, Lucifer got caught up in promoting himself instead of glorifying God. Don't fall in the same trap as he did!

  5. Hi Scott,

    I too came out of false religion and can attest to how such leads one to the pit of Hell. I also agree that we don't want to get in a place where we are lone ducks or flying solo. Iron sharpens iron, so we benefit greatly from fellowship with those of a like precious faith. It is also very important to be prayerful about where God wants you to plug-in. As long as we are seeking and obedient to God, He will show us where that is.

    God Bless!

  6. Hi Talent,

    For sure the most important thing is that we each - individually - get to Christ. He will organize His Body as He sees fit to accomplish His work.

    Yes, false religion will always rise up in anger when confronted with the true Gospel.

    "It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known." Matthew 10:25-26

    But who loves the Lord enough to stand for truth, even when the false rises up against you, to kill you or malign your character, because you dare to hold them to the light of the Gospel of the Kingdom?

    Each must choose whom they will serve. I pray that we all choose wisely.

    Thanks for sharing your comments!

  7. Hi Set Free Indeed,

    I pray that you are doing well. The interesting thing is that those things which do not have Christ as the center are already in ruin...even while masquerading as light.

    I also agree that at issue is a root of bitterness. It is such that motivates the false as well as attracts people to it. Babylon's entire structure is founded on wounded people trying to be approved & accepted by men. That is why the system uses prestige & promotion to tie people to itself and impart a sense of worth. But it is all built upon sand.

    This is why the issue is within each individual person. Every person needs to be made whole in Christ so that we can be empowered to stand as faithful and effective witnesses.

    As you say, every motive contrary to God's glory be trampled down in the name of Jesus!

  8. Fitting poem, so posting...

    Only One Life

    Two little lines I heard one day,Traveling along life's busy way;
    Bringing conviction to my heart, And from my mind would not depart;
    Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

    Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
    Then, in 'that day' my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgement seat;
    Only one life,'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

    Only one life, the still small voice, Gently pleads for a better choice
    Bidding me selfish aims to leave, And to God's holy will to cleave;
    Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

    Only one life, a few brief years, Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
    Each with its clays I must fulfill, living for self or in His will;
    Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

    When this bright world would tempt me sore, When Satan would a victory score;
    When self would seek to have its way, Then help me Lord with joy to say;
    Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

    Give me Father, a purpose deep, In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
    Faithful and true what e'er the strife, Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
    Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

    Oh let my love with fervor burn, And from the world now let me turn;
    Living for Thee, and Thee alone, Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
    Only one life, "twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

    Only one life, yes only one, Now let me say,"Thy will be done";
    And when at last I'll hear the call, I know I'll say "twas worth it all";
    Only one life,'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

    Author Unknown

  9. Hi Anonymous,

    If our eyes don't stay on the Lord then pride can surely creep in and raise its ugly head. Good admonition!

  10. FYI:

  11. The need to read this

  12. Hi Anonymous,

    That article expresses the view of the "Emergent Church" and it is reflective of apostasy.

    Church is not a business where folks need to drum up membership for the sake of getting finances. Scripture says that unless the Lord builds a house, then those who labor do so in vain (Psalm 127:1). Yet how many people really trust the Lord to build His house?

    When I first came to know the Lord, nobody needed to harp on me about giving. The Lord put it upon my heart to give and it was my joy to do so. I believe that this is how the Lord builds His house, by moving on people's heart both to will and do His good pleasure.

    But when we take our eyes off of Christ (or if our eyes were never on Him), all we focus on is how to get more money. They say, "Churches that make changes should do so with a view to retaining the prayerful and monetary support of older members as well as attracting new people." What about saving souls? How pathetic.

    May every work of man be shown as the folly it is so that the power of God can truly be seen in His witnesses (which is not just those in the pulpit).

    If we seek God's face and are obedient to what He says, then His will shall be accomplished because it is His work being done.

  13. Hi Latter Days,

    Great article as usual. I have also stopped going to church but I do bible studies with a blessed bunch of people twice a week. I have learned more from them than I did going to church. My question is how do I respond to my family? Especially my in laws who I live with when they ask me about this?
    They go to church and my mom in law believes she is saved even though her fruits as a believer are not bearing. Also how do deal with this i regards to my husband who is not saved but goes to the same church his family goes to.Again your prayers and response to this question are highly appreciated. God Bless.

  14. Thank you for the article. I'm considering writing a post on a similar topic. I agree that the institutional church is not itself the root of the problem. At the same time it does seem that the entire purpose and motivation behind institutionalization is not good. If anything, the mindset that "you need to be loyal to us and join up with what we're doing" seems to be prevalent even in the best of churches.

  15. Hi Ariana,

    I have experienced that too.

    Now I do believe that the Body of Christ will function as one body - guided by His Spirit - working together to accomplish God's purposes. I have been blessed to see this happen in a church environment before.

    Yet, I have also been in church environments where the admonition to "submit to the rule" of elders is stressed to the point where freedom and growth in Christ is truncated. A sort of "You are only serving the Lord if you do what I say" attitude, so to speak.

    For me, I have found that when a church requires submission to such a degree that it puts me at odds with what I know God is telling me to do, then I must choose to go with the Lord.

    It is oftentimes a lot easier to preach the truth about real fellowship in the Lord than to live it out. As you say, even the best churches can mistakenly think fellowship and service to the Lord is somehow all about them. It is not about us at all...whether "us" are the elders, the choir, the members, etc. If fellowship isn't first and foremost about Jesus, then it is simply a waste of time and a dead work.

    I pray that you find Godly fellowship so that you can be in an environment to grow in the Lord, be edified, and be a blessing to others.


In an effort to reduce the amount of spam received, Anonymous posts will no longer be accepted. Comments are still moderated and will appear once approved.

If you have a personal message to relay, please use the "Contact Us" form at the top of the blog. Thank you!