The sequence in which these topics are presented is not intended to indicate their order of priority but simply to provide systematic headings for these essential aspects of a biblically-based ministry.
First, the foundation for ministry is the accurate and relevant teaching and preaching of God’s Word (Acts 2:42a; 2 Tim. 4:2; Col 1:28; 1 Cor. 1:23; 2:1-5). The exposition of the Scriptures and their application to the hearers are fundamental to the spiritual growth and development of God’s people (2 Tim. 3:16; 4:2).
It’s my responsibility as your Apostle/ Bishop (and others who have the gift of preaching and teaching) to instruct you’ll, God’s people in the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
This is best done by systematically preaching through books of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, so that the whole scope of Scripture is covered. Such preaching and teaching provides God’s people with the spiritual nourishment that they will “grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18); to equips the saints “for the work of the ministry”; and to builds up the body of Christ, so that God's people will “come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:7-16).
The pulpit ministry, while very important, is only part of the whole process of Christian education and nourishment. I believe that the education, exhortation and encouragement of believers takes place in a balanced environment of personal study of the Word, small groups, individual mentoring and discipleship, and pulpit ministry.
What is of paramount importance is that the Word is preached and taught accurately and relevantly. Expository (or, biblical) preaching is the biblical model for the public proclamation of God’s Word.
The term “expository preaching” is often misunderstood and associated with the clinical, “dry” exegesis of Scripture. However, this is not fair or accurate. Expository preaching, properly defined and practiced, is the Spirit-empowered proclamation of God’s Word, that interprets its meaning accurately, explains its truth clearly, declares its message authoritatively, and applies its significance practically, with a view to generating a spiritually transforming response in the listeners.
If that definition is a bit long and complex, then the apostle Paul’s definition is probably the shortest and simplest - “Preach the Word” (1 Timothy 4:2).
Second, the confidence for ministry is prayer (Acts 2:42d). An active and dynamic prayer ministry is vital for the survival and growth of each believer individually and the church corporately. A prayer ministry should be diverse in its form (e.g. small intercessory groups, prayer teams, prayer partners, corporate prayer, individual prayer), broad in its objectives, and widespread throughout the church body.
Prayer should be part of the life of the church on a consistent basis (cf. Acts 1:14; 4:23-31; 12:5; 1 Thess. 5:17) and must begin with the example of the church leaders (Acts 6:4; Col. 4:12). Among other things, the church is to pray for its leaders (1 Thess. 5:25; 2 Thess. 3:1); for one another (James 5:16); for the authorities (1 Tim. 2:1-4); for the widespread and bold proclamation of the gospel (Eph. 6:18-20; 2 Thess. 3:1); for those who are sick (James 5:14-16); and for the unity and testimony of the church (Jn. 17:11-23).
We can learn much about the form and content of our prayers from the example of the apostle Paul’s prayers (cf. Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Phil. 1:2-11; Col. 1:3-6, 9-14; 1 Thess. 1:2-4; 5:23; 2 Thess. 1:3-5, 11-12).
Third, the power for ministry is the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 2:1-5; 1 Thess. 1:5; 1 Pet. 1:12).
The Holy Spirit can and does make the ministry of the church effective and powerful. He alone changes people’s lives into conformity with the will of God and into the image of God’s Son (Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:11-14; Col. 1:9).
He alone has the power to convict people of sin (Jn. 16:8) and grant us new life in Christ (Jn. 3:5; Tit. 3:5); to enable us to live holy lives (1 Cor. 6:19; 1 Pet. 1:2); to pray effectively (Rom. 8:26; Jude 20); to minister the Word with power (1 Cor. 2:1-5; 1 Thess. 1:5-6); to glorify God in our lives (1 Cor. 6:20); and to illuminate our understanding of God’s Word (1 Cor. 2:13-16; 1 Jn. 2:20, 27).
Fourth, the bond of ministry is the fellowship of believers (Acts 2:42b, 44-45). Our common bond in Christ is the source of our fellowship and our unity. Through fellowship believers express the local representation of the body of Christ (1 Jn. 1:7; 1 Cor. 12:26; Eph. 2:19-22).
When believers are interconnected through authentic, loving relationships, they form a unity that provides strength and stability to the church.
This fellowship is demonstrated by caring for one another physically, emotionally, psychologically, economically, and spiritually. The care of God’s people is a church-wide ministry in which all the members of the body care for the interests of each other, supporting each other in practical ways, in prayer, and in love (cf. Acts 4:32-37; 6:1; 1 Cor. 12:25; Gal. 5:13; 6:2; Eph. 4:32; 5:21).
As Gene Getz puts it: “Christians cannot grow effectively in isolation! They need to experience each other.” As Church leaders, we therefore, should ensure that the church body engages in regular fellowship as a community of believer with a common life in Christ, common goals, common needs, and common interests.
Fifth, the expression of ministry is passionate worship (Acts 2:42c). In worship the church expresses collectively its awe of God and its debt of gratitude to God for who he is— and what he has done.
Don Carson describes worship as “the proper response of all moral, sentient beings to God, ascribing all honor and worth to their Creator-God precisely because He is worthy, delightfully so.”
Vibrant and dynamic worship is vital to the life and health of the church as a body and its members individually. Worship must be a lifelong, daily practice for all believers individually in order for corporate worship to be effective and meaningful. Public worship includes singing praise to God, reading Scripture, corporate prayer, preaching the Word, and the observance of the church ordinances. The Lord’s table is central to our worship because it symbolizes the very basis for our existence as believers and as a church. It focuses us on the remembrance of Christ’s death from the perspective of his resurrection, and looks forward to his return (1 Cor. 11:23-26).
The event to which the entire O.T. looked forward and which is the fulcrum of redemptive history ought to be vitally important and a regular occurrence in our church ministry.
Sixth, the thrust of ministry is the salvation of the lost (Acts 2:47; 5:42; Matt. 28:20; Mk. 16:15; Rom. 10:14-15). Not only is practical Christian ministry expressed in caring about each other as believers, but also in caring about unbelievers. Christian ministry boldly proclaims the goodness of God in the gospel in order to reach the lost for Christ (Rom. 2:4). This should be done in culturally relevant ways, both personally and corporately. The gospel message of “repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21; Rom. 10:9-10) should be regularly preached from the pulpit and the people should be trained and motivated to tell others the way of salvation.
In this way the church and its members become a light for God in the community (Matt. 5:14-16). Through prayer and financial support, they can also contribute to world evangelization through missions.
As Church leaders we should facilitate corporate outreach, encourage and train the members in personal outreach, and motivate participation in world outreach.
Seventh, the scope of ministry is church-wide (1 Cor. 12-14; Rom. 12:1-8; 1 Pet. 4:10-11). Ministry is a task to which every believer has been called (Eph. 4:12; Rom. 12:4-8).
As we learn and grow, so we must use the gifts God has given us in His service and for the benefit of the whole church (1 Cor. 12:1-31).
As leaders of the church— we should affirm the members in their spiritual gifts, train them in the use of those gifts, provide them with opportunity to use them, motivate them to do so (Eph. 4:11-16), and commission them for ministry (2 Tim. 1:6; 1 Tim. 1:18; 1 Tim. 4:6-11; Acts 13:3), either within their own church, on the mission field, or wherever God calls them.
In this process, new leaders are also identified and trained to provide spiritual leadership. Indeed, church-wide ministry is not limited to each individual local church but extends to the body of Christ in its broadest scope. Thus, churches of similar theological persuasion should co-operate together at a local and national level by:
(1)— orchestrating the full scope of church ministry that a local church may not
be able to do on its own;
(2)— to hold local churches accountable to a wider body;
(3)— to give visible evidence of the truth that we compose a united body; and
(4)— to make united decisions on issues that might otherwise be divisive.
This practice was evident in the early church in discipleship (Acts 11:26), economic relief efforts (Acts 11:27-30), and important doctrinal and practical decisions (Acts 15:1-36).
If a church becomes self-focused and separatist in its attitude— it runs the risk of becoming cultish if not an outright cult; it cuts itself off from the larger body of believers and fails to operate in practice as a N.T. church.
Last but not least:
What, then, is ministry?
The purpose of ministry is— (1) to bring people to saving faith in Christ and then assist them to grow in Christ-likeness; and— (2) to bring every believer into a vital, authentic relationship with God through the grace of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, such that every believer glorifies God in thought, word, and deed— both in the church and in the world with the ultimate goal of presenting every one complete in Christ (Col. 1:28).
The purpose of ministry is not to “do” church. As Glenn Wagner points out, “The essence of the church must be more than just doing. The church must draw its essence from God— and his righteousness and holiness. It must take shape based on His worth as Creator. It must reflect His glory as God, and when it meets and ministers, it ought to express back to God the glory due his name.
There must be more to church than simple psychological encouragements, tips for improving interpersonal relationships, and helpful religious seminars.
Ministry is not about ritual or routine religion— but a living relationship with God. It is not about numerical growth but spiritual growth. It is not about programs— but about people - people who are wholly focused on God, powerfully filled with the Spirit, and happily united in a community of grace; people who vibrantly exalt Christ, openly perform works of faith, accurately teach the truth, boldly proclaim the gospel in word and deed, and authentically depend upon prayer. Soli Deo Gloria. (Glory to God).
The Scriptures declare that with God, "all things are possible unto them that believe."
As your Apostle, Bishop and Pastor, I am believing and trusting God for our new sanctuary and family life center in 2019. God has anointed and appointed me to lead the End Time Church Family during these last and evil days of anti-family sentiments, anti-God and anti-Christ attitudes toward right living.