08 Mar What is Christian Ministry?
Periodic discussions often arise among Progressive Christians about what does (or should) ministry include. The question is being posed a bit incorrectly. The question should be, “What does ministry NOT include?” Because when we begin to think about it from this vantage point, we start to realize that there are no good works, no vocations, and no discussions that are beyond the province of Progressive Christian Ministry.
Let’s take some guidance from Henry David Thoreau. The famous 19th century transcendentalist once wrote: That which we are, we are all the while teaching. This sounds like something Jesus might say. For when we are in Christ, and following the path of love, patience, and diligence, it does not matter the work we are doing (be it carpentry, teaching, chemistry, or waiting tables), we are performing a ministry through the example of who we are. But when we lash out in anger, rush through jobs impatiently, or judge those around us harshly, our Christian ministry stops dead in its tracks.
For the Progressive Christian, there should be no division between ministers and lay people. In Christ, the reverend and the software developer are both ministers. We are all meant to be ministers and stewards of each other’s divinity, as well as the unique skills and talents that God grants us. Finding and developing those skills is a ministry in itself, a ministry to the Christ in us. Applying those skills through good works, and in a loving manner, is another ministry, one offered to the world at large. But these are not the only ministries.
Christian ministry does not stop when “the work” stops. It continues on through each and every aspect of our lives: from the ways we deal with friends and family to the ways we play and express our joy. So to paraphrase Thoreau, That which we are, is a ministry we are all the while teaching.
To read about the suggested role of the Progressive Christian Pastor in today’s church, please go to: The New Reverend’s Role.