Theology of Ministry
Douglas R. Lupo
STATEMENT: The way I live and practice ministry has been directly influenced by my Christian experience and is a result of a personal and dynamic relationship with God, through His one and only son Jesus Christ.
EXPLANATION: When I accepted Jesus into my heart, not only did I experience adoption (Ephesians 1:5), atonement (Hebrews 2:17), blessings (Matthew 5:3-12), cleansing (Hebrews 9:14), deliverance (Daniel 12: 1), eternal life (Matthew 25:46; John 3:16), forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 2:13), glorification (Romans 8:30), healing (I Peter 2:24), joy (I Peter 1:8-9), justification (Romans 4:25), reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:18-20), redemption (Romans 3:24), new birth (John 3:3-16), rest (Exodus 33:14; Matthew 11:28-30), renewal (Titus 3:5), salvation (John 3:17), and sanctification (Romans 15:16; 1 Peter 1:2), but I took the first step of discipleship in my new life in Christ. To be a disciple of Christ, I learned I must be willing to go where He would go (Matthew 16:24) and do what He would do (John 13:15; 14:12); to be just like Him (Romans 8:29; I Thessalonians 1:6).
In most cases where the words “minister” or “ministering” are used in the English versions of the Bible, a form of the Greek word diakonia is used. Diakonia, which means “service” or “ministry”, occurs twenty-nine times in the New Testament. A related noun, diakonos, means “servant,” “minister,” or “deacon,” and occurs thirty-nine times. Diakoneo, a verb, means “to serve” or “to serve as a deacon”, and it occurs twenty-two times. A similar word, doulos, means “slave’ or “servant,” and is used 141 times. All of these ministry words are important to us because they focus on our actions, as subjects of and as an extension of Christ, towards other human beings (Matthew 25:40). Rather than writing a creed for us to chant, God demonstrated the perfect example by sending His beloved Son, who came as a servant (Isaiah 52:13-53; Philippians 2:5-7).
The climax of Jesus’ ministry and the beginning of Christian missions is found in what we call The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18ff, Acts 1:8). The Great Commission instructs us to minister to those around us, those in surrounding communities and regions, and to the most distant parts of earth.
Our ministry is to magnify Christ as well as help others find the strength of faith, hope, and love. Ministry is to be inclusive and is as broad as human need itself. The Bible describes ministry to the alien (Psalm 146:9), handicapped (Matthew 15:30-31), hungry (Luke 9:12-17), imprisoned (Matthew 25:42-43), naked (Matthew 25:42-43), oppressed (Luke 4:18), orphans (James 1:27), poor (Matthew 19:21), socially outcast (Luke 5:12-13), widows (James 1:27), both sexes (John 4:4-42), plus all races and nations (Matthew 28:18ff). Ministry is based on respect for all humans, for we are all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26).
In short, ministry involves meeting any need of another person on the Lord’s behalf (Leviticus 19:1-2; 9-19; Luke 4:1821). The importance of meeting others needs was made clear when Jesus stated it would be a qualification for either eternal punishment or eternal life on the day of judgement (Matthew 25:31-46). In fact, ministry, love in action, to other people is the characteristic mark of a Christian disciple (John 13:35) and our faith is incomplete without it (James 2:14-26).
• Chafer, Lewis Sperry. Systematic Theology. Volume Two. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1988.
• Disciple’s Study Bible (New International Version). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 1988.
• Richards, Lawrence 0. Expository Diclionary of Bible Words. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corporation, 1985.
• Ryrie, Charles C. Basic Theology. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986.
• Strong, James. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1986.
• Unger, Merrill F. The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary. Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1988.
• Young, Robert. Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Revision: January 1999