What is Ministry?

But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” Acts 3:6

WHAT IS MINISTRY?

Very often we think of ministry as the work of a Christian church or organization, or of a missionary or someone working “in the ministry."  But James tells us in chapter 1 verse 27 that "pure religion is to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

Reading Acts 3 brings up a lot of questions of what ministry actually looks like.

  • How many times a day did Peter and John go to the temple to pray?
  • How long (years) had they been doing this?
  • How often did they pass through the Beautiful Gate?
  • How long (years) had the lame man been sitting at the Beautiful Gate? Acts 4:22
  • How many times did Peter and John pass by this same lame man at the gate?
  • How many times did Jesus pass by this same lame man?
  • Why was this man healed on this occassion?
  • Why did this lame man sit at this particular gate and not at some other gate?
  • What did the lame man expect from Peter and John?
  • Why did Peter and John not have any money?
  • Had Peter and John given this man money before?
  • By whose faith was the man healed? His? Or Peter and John’s?
  • Why now? Why on this particular day?  Why this particular lame man?
  • Did Peter and John heal anyone and everyone they met?
  • How did they know who to heal when?
  • Did Jesus heal anyone and everyone he met?
  • How did Jesus know who to heal when?

Many of the answers to these questions can be found in following chapters of Acts where we learn that the man who had been lame since birth (3:2) was now 40 years old (4:22).  We also see because of this healing on this particular day, Peter proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the rulers, elders, priests and scribes of the Jewish nation (4:8-12). And we learn that this healing ushers in the phenomenal growth of the first church (4:4).

I don’t really subscribe to the notion that some believers are called into full-time ministry and some aren’t.  I believe we are all ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through our lives each and every day.  And I believe ministry carries the following characteristics:

  1. Consistency - The Jewish tradition was to go to the temple to pray three (3) times a day every day.  I don’t believe Peter, John or Jesus lived completely contrary or outside of this tradition and therefore, I believe they engaged in prayer at the temple very often….if not every day 3 times a day, as did most other Jewish people.
  2. Seeking - Peter, John and Jesus didn’t go to the temple out of obligation or religious practice. They went to the temple to hear from and seek the presence of God the Father.  Could they do this without going to the temple? Yes, but I believe they still choose to seek God’s presence through the Jewish tradition.
  3. Preeminence - The only acts that Jesus performed (healing, ministry, etc) were the acts his Father told him to do. He abided in his Father and his Father in him. Ministry is living with the preeminence (first above all else) of Christ in our daily lives.
  4. Faith - The lame man did not ask to be healed, or to have faith that he would be healed.  He was healed because Peter and John believed in the name and truth of Jesus Christ.  It was by their faith that the man was healed.
  5. Humility - Ministry happens every day as we go about our daily lives.  It doesn’t require a ritual, an event, a special announcement, special recognition, special knowledge, or special training.  It is living every day in the presence of our God and his son Jesus Christ.

THE SHEPHERD’S HOUSE

Life together at The Shepherd’s House has been busy as it always is.  I have been active mostly with the “back office” or other work that is done apart from direct interaction with the people we serve.

On May 9, we held a Grand Opening and dedication of our new Gerald Inman Memorial Kitchen.  Gerald passed away several years ago while playing racquetball (heart attack and/or severe blow to the head while falling). Gerald was in the mission every day. He loved the ministry. He loved the men. He was a champion of transformed lives by the Gospel of Jesu Christ. He had a shirt that read “Follow me to Paradise."

April was our first month for creating and sending our own direct mail piece through a local printer (Xpress Printing in Sisters, OR).  This was a decision to move away from a national direct mail and marketing company in an attempt to save some costs and to tell a different message of who The Shepherd’s House is and what we do.  Doing this work “in-house” takes a little more effort, but we have some excellent help with this process right now.  So, if you are on The Shepherd’s House mailing list, you have seen different letters in your mailbox for the past 2 months.

We continue to work on developing our "Women and their Children" program.  Gloria Hall was hired in December as our Director of Women and Children Ministries and has been actively connecting and communicating the program with local churches, groups and individuals.  Our next step is to find a suitable facility for the program and that is proving to be a bit of challenge in Bend.  Our residential rental vacancy is virtually 0% and the price of other potential properties (commercial, retail, industrial, mixed use) continues to increase as demand rises.

May 26 - 31, I will be traveling to Seattle, WA for the annual AGRM (Association of Gospel Rescue Missions) national convention.  They tell us that this year will have the highest attendance ever with over 400 rescue missions represented throughout the country.  I will be attending alone representing both The Shepherd’s House and Grace Network International as I did last year in St. Louis.

On June 11, we will be holding another graduation for some of the men from our program who have moved through a new phase of their life.  This doesn’t mean all of them will now move out, live independently and never have to deal with or worry about their struggles and/or addictions.  It just means they have progressed through this phase and will begin to look to a new phase.  For some this means school. For some it means work. For some it means moving out (we never encourage living alone).

If you have any thoughts or comments, I would love to hear from you.  Just use the comment section below.