An Inverted Model
Today there are larger churches, more Christian resources including films and books, more money and more ministries than anytime in history, yet Christian influence seems to be on the decline rather than the increase. It seems as if we still may be missing something. And I would like to suggest we are. I believe part of the reason is many (not all) churches may be operating in what I call an inverted model of ministry. I believe the change needs to come from within our own thinking and understanding of how we do "ministry."
For too long we have created a sacred and secular divide between ministry in the church and work outside the church and I believe it has prevented us from releasing what I call marketplace apostles (meaning sent ones) to be salt and light in their sphere of influence, whether that be education, government, media, finance, etc. I believe we've been walking in a backwards paradigm of ministry. Ephesians 4:11-13 tells us,
And it was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for works of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, as we mature to the full measure of the stature of Christ. (Emphasis mine)
The book of Ephesians introduces us to a paradigm of Church equipping to be sent out into the marketplace, highways, and biways to go and make disciples in our coming and our going. According to Ephesians, every Christian is a minister while Pastors and the five-fold ministry are the equippers for the ministry. I believe this paradigm releases believers to be salt and light in the world and also demands every believer to put their faith into action in the marketplace, in the school, at home and not reserve our faith life for a Sunday morning church experience. Imagine if every believer viewed their daily routine as ministry? We would change the world. Sadly we've reserved "ministry" for the seminary trained and religious elite.
The first example we see of this is in the book of Acts and Stephen, the modern day food pantry worker. The apostles were devoting themselves to the teaching and preaching. Stephen was taking care of the food distribution and was out doing signs and wonders, ministering to kings in the marketplace and bringing people into the community that the Apostles were stewarding.
Today in your work, ask God to open your eyes to the ministry he has put right in front of you and take God with you as you leave Church and bring his rule and reign into your home, workplace and community.