In studies we were doing on servants and ministry, we came across a reminder of what “ministry” is which fits what we have thought for some time. Ministry is meeting people where they are and taking them to where God wants them to be. Too often we take them to where we want or think they should be or, even worse, where we need them to be.
First, ministry is always relational. It is always about people, not programs or projects. We meet people where they are in their lives; it’s a missional mindset. We must be involved in their lives by loving, listening and caring, then connecting with them on their turf, not ours.
Second, we must go with them in their development. Jesus always walked with those He developed for ministry. He never forced; neither did He forsake. He developed an “alongside” ministry that we now aptly call “mentoring,” walking with them while teaching both practical and Biblical precepts. One person defines this as “Love Journeys,” a fitting definition. We cannot disciple if we do not have a love relationship with the Savior, nor if we do not have a love for the people God brings into our lives. I have probably said way too many times, “It’s not about you; it’s about them and bringing them to where their Lord wants them to be.”
This comes to me today as I study the diversity of gifts and their relationship to the building of the body of Christ, “His church.” Developing people for ministry means we must take them through a Spirit-guided ministry, not a self-guided ministry. We must learn to know them and what the Lord has for them on an individual basis, then help them to move themselves through a process of finding their own ministry. Often I am reminded of Jethro coming alongside Moses in his ministry of judging the people of Israel, giving him guidance and then stepping back to let Moses himself put it into action; that’s “discipleship.”
How do I do that, or rather how ought I to do it? By yielding myself to the Spirit, by meeting people where they are, by listening and sensing their hearts and how God has made them and moving them along; I call this “along the way discipleship.” It is not “one size fits all.” It is through doing what Christ would have me do for people as I serve them and prepare them to serve the Master.