What is ministry? You would think that my education over the past few years would provide ample research into defining such a phenomenon. However, you realize that the abstract is sometimes just that . . . abstract. Sometimes what you imagine a ministry should look like in a church is far different from the actually ministry that is taking place. So often we judge ministry by two criteria: attendance at Sunday worship at the number of programs offered by the church ( a third that we could add would be the amount of money brought in from Sunday morning offering). Therefore, if a church doesn’t have a high attendance at Sunday worship or really doesn’t offer many programs during the week, we judge it to be an ineffective ministry or maybe not even consider it a ministry.
But what if ministry was measured by other criteria? For example, the pastor that I am working for this summer has a huge presence in his neighborhood. Some are Jewish people, some attend another neighborhood church, some are Reformed, and some could care less about church. However, as I have been a part of many interactions over the past two weeks, I think many of these people would consider my pastor to be their pastor even if they don’t attend our church. Instead, they turn to him for advice, for a listening ear, for a helpful hand. This type of ministry will never show up in the Church Herald and never gain accolades from the denomination. But it is ministry. Lives are being shaped and formed on account of the grace extended from this pastor.
Maybe it’s time that we expand our narrow definition of what ministry in a church looks like. Maybe it’s time for us to start ministering to those beyond the flock which we are called to shepherd. Or maybe, our flock actually extends beyond Sunday morning attenders and church members. Maybe our flock is all the people we live amongst in our neighborhoods, the people we work with during the week.