(The Faith Forum Series – Batch 3)

The term ‘ministry’ is often used to define the many activities that the congregational members of Churches engage in. However, the term ‘ministry’ and ‘activity’ are not synonymous, as many tend to think. Not all activities being conducted by a Church or a group or an individual in a Church are ministry. Sad to say, some are just that: activities.

I propose to discuss three (3) elements that need to exist for an activity to be considered to be ministry. These are as follows:-

1. REAL MINISTRY EXISTS WHEN the purpose for it being birthed and for which it operates is to reach unbelievers with the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ and/or to edify, build up, teach, encourage and support those who are already believers in Jesus Christ, to become more like him and to be strengthened in the faith.

In other words, what we do, should be pointing people to the glorious light of the Lord Jesus Christ, as opposed to the promotion of our selves, our Churches or anything else. If the activities we are engaged in therefore are not designed to do this and are not designed to remind those who are already in him to keep looking to and abiding in him, then as nice as these activities may be, how they may appear and how busy they may have us, they are not ‘ministry’.

I explained this to a Committee group of a Church recently, which often distributed money, food and groceries to less fortunate individuals in society. They had been doing this for years and convinced that they were pleasing God but when I enquired if, in distributing these items, they ever found ways to share the gospel with those that they helped, shockingly, they said, no.

I reminded them that, while giving was good, if it failed to point people to Jesus Christ, then it was a waste of time. I advised them that there were different ways of using what they were doing, to reach lost souls with the message of how to be saved and that this was the real purpose behind such a ministry. For example, a simple Christian tract could be placed in the bag that contained the groceries, to ensure that persons did not just go away with money and food that could temporarily help their flesh but also food for their souls, which had the power to curb their spiritual appetite forever.

I recalled even how I would usually assist the homeless on the streets when they approached me and requested assistance. I would usually buy them a meal or hand them money to get a meal or two. However, one day, it dawned on me, that as nice and as kind as this was, it was not ministry because I was not pointing them to Jesus Christ.

I therefore changed my strategy and whenever I assisted a homeless or poor person, whether it be with a meal, some money or groceries for him and his family, I would let him know that I was doing it in Jesus’ name. I would also stop and chat with some further, whenever the opportunities presented themselves, so as to share the salvation message, either before I assisted them or even while I was assisting them.

This resulted in a man who asked for my help and who I purchased breakfast for, coming to know Christ as his Lord and Saviour, right over a restaurant table, as he was eating his meal. People looked on and I did not care. Jesus Christ was being glorified and this man professed that he believed in the Jesus Christ I told him about and right then and there, bowed his head, asked for forgiveness for his sins and confessed him as Lord.

This man had asked for a minute of my time as I had exited a store and a bit fed up of people begging me for money, I had walked off. I had not gotten far though, when I felt that the Lord was telling me that my behaviour had been inappropriate and that I should go back and at least hear what the man wanted to say. I therefore turned around and retraced my steps and when I saw the man, still positioned outside the store trying to get the attention of some passerby, I asked him what he had wanted. He wanted something to eat and so I took him to a nearby eatery and got him breakfast. I sat with him and used the opportunity then and there, not just to meet his physical need of hunger but his spiritual need. In short, I gave him the gospel. He expressed the desire to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour and so, then and there, even with people around the eatery, I helped him to accept Jesus Christ into his heart.

2. REAL MINISTRY EXISTS WHEN the one who engages in the activity is a genuine Christian and therefore, does not attempt to exploit the Lord for his own gain or to live hypocritically.

Many people claim to be in ministry but really, they see it as a vehicle to get them where they want to go. What they do is not for Christ but for themselves, their bank accounts, their popularity, their esteem and their own selfish motives. It is not about Jesus at all but about them.

Some flavour what they do with little doses of Jesus here and there but it is mainly about them and their empires and their success. They could care less whether people hear the gospel and get saved or not or whether genuine believers live a life that is pleasing to God.

They see the Church and the activities they can do in it, as a means of business. They are therefore not servants of Christ but servants of their own lusts.

This brings me to an important point: It is not possible to be in ‘ministry’, if you are not a genuine Christian that believes on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart and that have confessed him as Lord with your mouth.

You may have a lovely voice yes but you being in the choir or singing a solo that brings the congregation to its feet with applause, doesn’t make it ministry. You may be good with words, yes and quite knowledgeable about the Bible but if you don’t have the Lord of the Bible on the throne of your heart and enjoying a real relationship with him daily, then what you are doing is not ministry. You have the talent and the theoretical knowledge but it is all a waste of time. It is just activity.

Only a true Christian has been equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit to minister to others and to their needs, in accordance with scripture. Helping people, making a positive difference and using our talents and God-given skills are not ministry, if we ourselves are not Christians, as we can’t minister to others in accordance with the Bible, unless we first have been ministered to with the gospel, have believed on Jesus Christ and have accepted him into our souls as Lord. We cannot give spiritual things if we ourselves do not have it within us from God.

People who are genuine Christians and are engaged in ministry will not be perfect. There are times when they may even fall but they will not stay down or stay content in a place that displeases God (Proverbs 24:16).

The true Christian is convicted when he sins, does not wish to continue in it and is always seeking to please God and not himself. What he preaches and teaches therefore, he tries to live, as he does not wish to be a hypocrite. He may not have it all together but he is pressing without wavering, toward it and is determined to be who God wants him to be. He is always therefore examining himself and his life (even by the things that he ministers to others about), to see where he himself may have failed and what he needs to repent of or work on in his own life and this keeps him humble.

In 1 Corinthians 9:27, Paul states: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

In short therefore, real ministry exists when the one who is ministering is not a mere Church goer or religious but one who truly believes on Jesus, is striving to become more and more like him everyday, to submit to and obey all of his commands and has the good news of salvation and the edification of the saints, at the core of his heart.

It is only then that a person becomes qualified by God, to be put into ministry. For, no Christian that is in genuine ministry has put himself there (Romans 10:15; 1 Timothy 1:12). God has called him to it and apart from the general commission to reach lost souls with the good news of salvation, God sometimes calls his children to specific areas of ministry for which he wishes them to function, in partnership with him.

In such cases, he provides or equips them with all that they would need to perform the work, in terms of their gifts, talents, skills, knowledge and experience, all of which he allowed them to accrue for this purpose. It doesn’t matter if others think that such a person is ill-equipped or doubt whether God has called him for that work or think that he is too insignificant. God is the one that selects his children for his assignments, as HE sees fit (1 Corinthians 12:18).

Those that are called by God into ministry, do not go out on their own to perform the work. God goes with them and helps them and succours them because it is a partnership with that person or group of persons and God.

In Acts 9:15, after Saul who was renamed ‘Paul’ believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and confessed him as Lord, he was only now eligible to be used by God in ministry. God stated to Ananias of the work that he had appointed for Saul to do in partnership with him: “…for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.”

In Acts 13:2, it reads of Saul and Barnabas: “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.”

In 1 Timothy 1:11-12, Paul, states that the “…glorious gospel of the blessed God…” was committed to his trust. He stated therefore: “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.”

In 1 Corinthians 3:6-10, Paul reminds us that it is God that gives the gifts and talents and equips us and it is God’s divine purpose that we are to be about when we use those gifts and talents and nothing else. It is also God who partners with us as we use what he has given to us and no matter what we do, it is God that causes the work to prosper spiritually, for his Kingdom.

God will never give us a ministry for our own popularity but to exalt the only one worthy to be exalted, which is Jesus.

Paul states:

  • “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase… For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”

True ministry is all about God therefore. If he is placed on a backburner and is not alongside us giving us his ideas and his input into how we can improve, what we need to change in our strategy and how best to approach different people with the gospel and if we are not open to what he wants to do and how he wants to do it and are not even sure if he has called us to do what we are doing, then it is not ministry. It is us doing our own thing and hoping that God will see it and bless it.

It is my view, based on my observation, that some of the activities that are on the roster of Churches are merely activities and not ministry. For, although they are religiously done year after year and take up much time and effort, they were not designed to draw people to Jesus Christ and they do not do so, they do not encourage Christians to be more Christ-like, they are not activities that the Lord called that Church to do or the person functioning in it to perform and the person, group or Church is in essence, undertaking that activity alone. God has not partnered with them to get it done.

It therefore follows that if the activities that we are busy doing in the Church are not for the purpose of pointing people to Christ and we have not been called by God to do them, then it is not ministry but something of our own humanistic making.

Even if we function in an area that is usually used to minister to unbelievers and to the saints in Christ Jesus, this still does not make what we do, ministry, as it only qualifies as ministry if we are genuine Christians, striving to live right, if we are doing it for the right reasons and if we have been called by God to do it.

In any event, unless what we propose to do is to draw people to Christ (not to ourselves or to our Churches or to our bank accounts), God will not call us to it. For, God is not interested in the many activities in a Church. He is only interested in the salvation of lost souls and the edification of his saints. This is what, in essence, ministry is about.

3. Finally, REAL MINISTRY EXISTS WHEN the truthful way we live, appeals to the God given conscience of all who see us, in defiance of and in stark contrast to the world’s system.

If our motives are right and we are genuine Christians and are true to God’s cause and if we are striving to live right and not hypocritically and our main concern is the salvation of souls and the Christ-likeness (not financial, educational, relational or any other earthly empowerment) of believers, then God will use us in the work that He has prepared for us to do before the foundation of the world and in so doing, what we do will yield fruit for God’s Kingdom.

Ephesians 2:10 states: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”


In closing, in 2 Corinthians 4:1-7, Paul summarizes all that I have discussed above perfectly, when he states to those who God has entrusted with ministry and not mere activities:

  • “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not. But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthern vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

(Written on 17th December, 2017 and expanded on 03rd November, 2018)

Dear Reader, If you found this Article useful, edifying or interesting, then you may also be interested in reading the following:

  • Note 42 – ‘Ten (10) Red Flags That That Speaker Or Teacher Is A Wolf Disguised In Sheep’s Clothing Or Operating Under The Devil’s Deception’
  • Note 295 – ‘Is What You’re Doing Ministry’?

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