I met a woman today while I was running errands for work. We fell into small talk and she asked if I had anything “fun” planned today. I took the road most traveled with my bland reply, “Just work, I guess.”
I thought of all the stories I could weave about my complicated life and my unpredictable schedule… and then I heard her ask, “Where do you work?” I kept up with the North American charade and chose the job where I have an office, “I work at the E Free Church here in town.”
Her eyes lit up. “Oh! The one on 24th street?”
Our conversation turned a corner and I arrived again at a crossroads. Though technically I’m employed by a church right now as an administrative assistant, I am growing into a stronger conviction about the power of non-vocational ministry. When Jesus spoke the commission over the disciples in Matthew 28, his directive was to make disciples – baptizing them in the name of the Father and teaching them to obey all His commands.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)
What he did NOT say was this, “Go into all the world and find leaders that you can pay to be disciples and hopefully people will follow them.”
We are settling for a powerless Christianity when we rely on paid ministry workers to carry all the weight of the Body of Christ. We have an amateur complex – an idea that we aren’t qualified or capable of reading and understanding the Word of God unless it is unpacked by an “expert” of the faith. We have elevated individuals in the church because of their knowledge or charisma or firm Sunday handshake and, in the process, given ourselves a ready excuse in the face of spiritual failure. “Well, I know I messed up again… but I’m no Pastor John. I wonder if there’s, like, a program where someone would help me with my addiction.” We make excuses (and we accept others’ excuses) for skipping devotions, church responsibilities, and Bible studies because we’re not “in the ministry” and there’s a lot more than Bible going on in our lives.
Again, when God gave the direction to go and make disciples he was talking about regular people living like Jesus and inviting other regular people to do the same.
Do you know that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52)? He grew into more knowledge of the Lord just like he grew into size 28 jeans (or robe). Every day he found out more about His Father and every day He obeyed with more joy and every day Jesus found more favor with God and man. This was his vocation. He was expert at loving the Lord, growing in knowledge of Him, and serving others.
No one is off the hook. Not a pastor? You’re qualified if you are born again. Don’t have a degree in women’s ministry? You are adequate in Christ. Not confident in your less-than-perfect Christian journey? Jesus wants you, too.
Here’s the catch (wink): you WANT to be on the hook. For all the squirming and protesting Christians do to get out of ministry and outreach and loving neighbors, they don’t realize that a worm on a hook is how you catch a fish. Jesus has qualified us to be His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). God is making His appeal through us to the world so that they might come to know the saving work of Christ.
No one is off the hook, but no true Christian should want to be anywhere else.
God has called, redeemed, and equipped regular people to take His message of redemption to the world in our everyday, regular encounters with regular people. So, why is it so much easier for people in vocational ministry to have conversations about the Lord?
We are all in ministry.
We are all on “staff.”
We are all called to make disciples.
let LOVE fly like cRaZy