Many Christian artists ask the question, what is ministry? Let me see if I can help answer this question by simply asking a few questions of my own, then answering them biblically.
First Question: What is Ministry?
Answer: Simply defined, it’s . . . serving God and serving His purposes and others on His behalf. Or even more simply stated, ministry is . . . Dealing with God about people and people about God. That’s it. Anything else beyond that, and it gets too complicated.
Second Question: What makes Ministry?
Answer: Five simple things: 1) assuming God works supernaturally in and through the fullness of His triune Self. Humans can’t initiate the supernatural work of salvation, or the miraculous working of God for conviction, enlightenment, forgiveness, healing, change, etc.; the supernatural part of ministry is only and always effected by God Himself. We, the humans, are simply pots. He’s the Potter and the Water, so to speak; 2) praying for and with people; 3) caring for people in the Name and power of Jesus, not just “doing good” in some abstract way—but intentionally doing the good because of your life from, in and through Jesus’ work in you!; 4) guiding people for help into God’s Word, the Bible; 5) sharing your faith simply when the time is right. That’s it. No matter what, if you do these things you are ministering. If you do NOT do these things—no matter what your title or education is or is not, you are not doing ministry.
Third Question: What do you charge for Ministry?
Answer: Nothing! Ministry is always FREE!! Just think about it: Would you ever say to someone, “Pay me, and then I’ll tell you about Jesus?” Of course not! Payment related to ministry . . . has either to do with “charity” (loving sacrificial gifts given by other believers who see your effectiveness in doing ministry and want you to be freed up to do more of it), or “support” (e.g., 1 Cor. 9:11, 12) [“a living” (1 Cor. 9:14)] [“aid” (Phil. 4:14-16)] [“supply” (Phil 4:18)]. The doing of ministry is technically NOT occupation or business. It’s Not in itself ever done for money. It’s simply serving God. Business is something else; even occupation is technically something else. So don’t get confused. The ministry, itself, is always FREE.
Fourth Question: When am I in ministry?
Answer: Because you are a believer priest (1 Peter 2: 9-10) no matter what your occupation is or isn’t, you ARE in ministry all the time. Everyone is in full time ministry !! If your business furthers ministry, praise God; but if it doesn’t, you are still in ministry, and you are still responsible for ministering in whatever context you find yourself.
Fifth Question: When does ministry happen?
Answer: When three intentions actually occur:
When you intend to engage people about the person and purposes of God.
When you are consciously faithing that God is at work (where there is no faithing going on, generally speaking, no supernaturally initiated transaction goes on).
When you actually are making contact with God about people, or with people about God and His purposes. That means for example that, at a Christian concert where none or few of these things are intentionally going on, even though it’s a concert of “Christian songs” there will generally be no or little actual ministry effected (. . . or affected).
Do not define ministry as occupation. If you do, you are Biblically incorrect!!
Ministry is NOT occupation. Occupation is categorically and simply something different than ministry. Ministry though, I hope, may often happen in the context of occupation.
Do not define ministry as business. If you do you are Biblically incorrect!! Ministry is NOT business; it is clearly something else. Certainly, and may it be often, that the income from business is used to support ministry—the mature believer often very generously invests into ministry—via donations, offerings and tithes. And don’t think that your ministry is over . . . if for whatever reasons you do poorly or fail in business. Ministry is dealing with God about people, and people about God even during unfortunate business circumstance.
Also, do not buy into the strategy that advocates funding ministry through business income. Only a few have done this, and it’s only worked because they have not let the business-tail . . . wag the ministry-dog; and, they are still somewhat confused about what business is, and about what ministry isn’t. The Lord will often supply your financial needs out of your doing ministry. But the moment you start doing ministry for money at that moment you have stopped doing ministry and begun doing business. And that’s a very dangerous thing to do.
What is Ministry?
Ministry is Dealing with God about people and people about God.
If you keep the simple definitions in mind I’ve suggested; while continuing to do ministry (which is always free), you’ll be certain to see God honor your faithfulness—whether the Lord releases you for ministry as an occupation.
May God give you the grace to see the distinctions between, business, occupation, and ministry—so you might wrap them all together in ways that keep your focus on Him and His purposes. And, in the process, may the Christian arts community see confusion about ministry clear—with the result that Jesus . . . and His accessibility . . . are even more imaginatively declared and embraced.