I have been a Christian for a number of years. As a child, I recall that people would refer to some people as "workers" in the church. It seemed that this usually referred to people who did some kind of work either in or around our church building. For years, at the church where I grew up, my mother "did the bulletin," running the bulletin off on a mimeograph machine.
The mimeograph machines are gone, but there are still plenty of people doing one task or another inside church buildings. Thank God for these people. Every week we have scores of people (volunteers) in our building doing this or that task. If you were to look at our church calendar or even walk down the hallways of our building, you would know that we are a very busy, active church.
Recently, I was in a conversation with a very good friend in which he talked about the frustration with many churches that will not affirm, equip, and bless the idea that living out our vocations is actually ministry. In other words, in the eyes of many, ministry seems to be church activity. If one is involved in an organized church activity or ministry, then one is ministering to others.
I think my friend is right. One can go to work, do quality work for others, and be in service to other men and women every day. That is ministry. That kind of ministry is every bit as legitimate as what might be done in the confines of a church building. Now I don’t want to minimize the value of what good men and women do every day in church buildings all over the world as they seek to do good for others. Yet, neither do I want to minimize the value of one’s calling lived out in service to God.
What do you think? In what way could churches affirm, support, and recognize the ministry that takes place each day as men and women live out their vocations?
I like these words written a few years ago by Rick Marrs in an article entitled "Calling or Career" in Leaven Journal (Vol. 11, Number 1, First Quarter 2003):
The Old Testament concept of vocation was as radical then as now. In a world given to self-absorption, human self-interest, and an overwhelming human tendency to define oneself independently of any other (a tendency that creates anxiety about the meaning of life and a purposeful future), the Old Testament presents us with a decidedly different view of humanity. The Old Testament defines human life quintessentially in relation to God. The world we inhabit reflects the loving imprint of a creator fundamentally for us, a creator who longs to be in relationship with us. Because God acts with intent and purpose, human life necessarily has intent and purpose.