The Ordained Ministry’s Facilitating Role (2)
PROFESSOR EMMANUEL Asante, a former Bishop of the Methodist Church Ghana, has observed that, “The early Church was considered as a Charismatic Community characterised by a fellowship (koinonia) of the faithful.
The man of God asserts, “In this community, there is hardly any distinction drawn between the “clergy” and the “laity”. Indeed, by virtue of their commitment to Christ, all believers participated in the one ministry of Christ, in diverse ways, according to the nature and degree of their individual gifts…”
Clearly, the Bible teaches that every baptised Christian believer has been called to be a minister. Every believer is expected to serve God, the Church and the world through the gifts God has graciously endowed them. This means that a believer who is gifted with singing ability and the other one who is blessed with teaching grace are both servants who participate in God's ministry.
It is written in 1 Peter 4: 10 that, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the same strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”
Moreover, in Romans 12: 4- 8, the apostle Paul writes that, “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individual members one of another.
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophesy, in proportion to your faith; if service, in your serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”
And then, in 1 Corinthians 12: 1ff, a list of diverse spiritual gifts are presented as available for believers in Christ for the common good. The gifts are listed as “the utterance of knowledge”, “faith”, “healing”, “working of miracles”, “prophecy”, “ability to distinguish between spirits”, various kinds of tongues” and “the interpretation of tongues”
All these, and several others which were not listed in 1 Corinthians 12: 1ff, in the words of Paul, are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individual as he wills” (1 Corinthians 12: 11). These point to the fact that all baptised Christian believers including ushers, Sunday School teachers, instrumentalists, prayer warriors, sound engineers, janitors, protocol officers are servants of God.
It is clear from the passages of Scripture given above that ministry as Professor Asante puts it: “is hardly limited to the ministry of the specially ordained.” He further states that “Ministry involves the church as a whole. That is, every true believer participates in the ministry of Christ Jesus from whom all Christian service originates.
“The ordained minister, although his task may be different from that of others, does not work in isolation, but in cooperation with other ministries given to the church,” says Prof. Asante. Every believer's service to God, the Church and the community in which the believer lives and the organization in which he or she works is important.
In his book, “The Call To Serve: A Theological Reflection On Ministry”, Asante insists, “The ordained ministry involves persons who have been called by God and ordained in and by the church and thereby have been commissioned to a lifelong ministry to the church and to the world.”
He continues: “The ordained ministry has been instituted and enabled by the Holy Spirit to serve as the representative ministry which focuses on the manifold ministries of the whole church.” These ministers are obviously comprises the apostle, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers who are popularly described as the fivefold ministry gifts.
We can see, so far, that restricting Christian ministry to the specially ordained servants of God alone is not the best as it denies the use of other spiritual gifts to edify the Body of Christ and to serve the world. When other believers “do not serve, the congregation's growth stagnates…but…when they serve every believer grows in maturity and makes disciples of others” (anonymous).
There have been instances where no ordained minister could be used to pray for the healing of a diseased person through faith in the name of Christ Jesus. But God has used ordinary members of the church to pray for healings to take place. Countless testimonies have been given concerning the healing grace of Christ operating through 'ordinary' believers.
This places a greater responsibility on the ordained ministry to facilitate the spiritual equipment of all believers by teaching and guiding them to exercise their spiritual gifts. The ordained ministry is, in fact, designed to function as a facilitating ministry; it has been established to help every believer to learn how to engage in the service of God even while performing their professional duties.
By James Quansah
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