WATCH DRURY WRITE A BOOK.  – THIS IS A TEMPORARY POST   Writer’s first draft of a book to be published by The Wesleyan Publishing House. as  an introduction to the ministry.  This web-posted copy is an early draft of the manuscript and not intended to be used as a final document.  While the editors will catch  minor errors if you see something significantly wrong or missing drop Keith Drury a note at   © 2003 Keith Drury


The difference between

“ministry” and “the Ministry”


Is there any difference between the “ministry” a pastor does in visiting a sick person in the hospital and the ministry a factory worker does visiting that same person after getting off work?  When we say a minister is “called” to the vocation of ministry do we mean nobody else is called to their work? What does it mean to be “ordained?”  What terms help us understand the general ministry and the equipping ministry?



What is “ministry?”

Did you ever tell a restaurant waiter or waitress, “Thanks for ministering to me”?  Sounds strange, doesn't it?  But that is essentially the root meaning of the term "ministry."  “Ministry” simply means serving or “waiting” on others—the same term we might use for waiting on tables at a restaurant.  Ministry is serving others.  At its simplest level, ministry includes everything any person might do to serve another—from waiting tables, to counseling, to a life in politics, to running a drill press at an automobile plant.  Each of these jobs provide a service and meets the needs of others.  In this broad sense everybody is a minister, Christians, Moslems, Buddhists and Atheists.  Ministry at its simplest level is serving—meeting others’ needs.  Every person in the world can do that.  Ministry in its most general sense is simply serving.


What then is “Christian ministry?”

Christians often use the term “ministry’ in a more specific way—to denote service that is itself Christian—either Christian in content or in motivation.  “Christian in content” would mean the actual service is related to helping a person develop a Christian-based life style or values.  Leading a Bible study is such a ministry that is Christian in content, thus “Christian ministry.”  Christian in motivation” has to do more with the person serving than the content of the service.  That is, a service offered out of a Christian motivation can be "Christian Ministry.”  When a Christian stops to help a person stranded on the highway because, “this is what Christians do,” it is “Christian ministry."  Ministry that is Christian in motivation can include anything from helping to build a Habitat for Humanity house, to picking up trash on the road in front of one’s home—and doing these things as a Christian duty.   Thus two persons might be involved in identical sort of flood relief services—one Christian and another atheist—but the help offered for only one is a “Christian ministry.”   In fact it is even possible for two Christians to serve beside each other—and only one be doing it out of Christian motivation.   Christian ministry is a service to others rooted in Christian motivation or is Christian in content—this is also sometimes called the “general ministry.”  Every Christian is called to this sort of ministry.   Christian ministry is service to others that is Christian in content or motivation.


Then what is “The Ministry?”

Most churches use “the Ministry” to describe the profession of a pastor called to a full time church vocation.  You might hear some pastors say, “All Christians are called to ministry but some are called to the ministry.”  Others make this distinction between the general ministry (to which all Christians are called) and the specific ministry (to which pastors and other professional ministers are called) by capitalizing the word “Ministry” to indicate the profession.  Those who do this would say “All Christians are called to ministry while some are called to the Ministry.”   Interestingly, a pastor is thus called to two kinds of ministry: the general ministry, to which all Christians are called and the professional equipping Ministry in which clergy spend their “careers.”   “The ministry” or a capitalized "Ministry” usually refers to the ordained vocational profession of the clergy or pastors.


What is “Equipping Ministry?”

The Equipping ministry is the same thing as "the ministry." It is simply another term some churches use for “the Ministry” as a profession.  It comes from the Bible.  Ephesians 4: 11-12 tells how God gave the church,  “Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, and Pastors and Teachers” so that they would “equip the saints” (Christians) “for works of ministry” (that is, the general ministry to which all Christians are called).  In this Scripture, God and the church set apart some Christians (pastors, evangelists, apostles) to equip the rest of the Christians for the general ministry in their regular job at an automobile plant, at home, in school or at the office.   The ministry is a job of working with lay people to train and equip them for their own ministries.  Every Christian is thus called to be a minister, but God calls some to be set apart to equip of the rest for their personal ministry.”  Equipping ministry is “full time Christian work” where a pastor or other full time minister prepares the laity for general ministry.


What then is “The Call?”

While it can be said that the Bible calls every Christian to evangelize, disciple, worship and serve others, there is also a personal and individual call from God that comes to some to become “a minister” as my profession—to give my entire life to serving and equipping other Christians.  We sometimes use the term “call to full time Christian work” for this calling or we might ask, “Have you been called to the ministry?”  The call to full time Ministry is not something you apply for, it is something that is bestowed upon you.  Such a call does not make you better than those who have heard the general call to all Christians—but this calling has always been praised in the church as a special call from God to serve and lead the people of God. This double use of the term “call” (all are called to general ministry, some are called to the equipping ministry) can cause confusion.  But it is not unlike other professions.  For instance, everyone is called at times to do counseling with a friend who is facing difficulty, but some people enter the vocation of counseling.  Every person—especially parents—do teaching at times, but some enter the vocation of teaching.  All of us might help nurse our spouse or children back to health when they get sick, but some enter the vocation of nursing.  Likewise all Christians do ministry but some are called by God into the vocation of the ministry.  “The call” refers to God’s recruitment of an individual Christian into the vocational ministry as a lifetime profession.


What is ordination?

Ordination is the rite the church uses to set apart a man or woman for a lifetime of equipping ministry—as pastor or priest or some other ordained professional ministry.  In most churches it is a solemn rite done only after many years of education, training, examination and several years of local church service as a minister.  In most denominations ordination is irrevocable.  If a minister falls morally his or her license to practice ministry might be taken away and locked up somewhere in a denominational vault.  But even if that minister is later “restored” to their vocation they are not re-ordained.  One can only be ordained once.  Rather a fallen minister who is restored gets their license to practice ministry back.  In this most Protestant churches are very much like Catholic churches who say, “once a priest always a priest.”  Ordination is when the church recognizes the minister’s lifetime authority as God’s representative to the people, and the people’s representative to God. Ordination is a serious matter and should not be pursued for light or temporary reasons.   Roman Catholics even consider ordination a sacrament.   Protestants do not consider it a sacrament, but hold it as one of the highest non-sacramental rites. Though few use the formal term today, traditionally they might refer to you as "Reverend" Lastname after this.  For many denominations, only ordained ministers may perform marriages, preach regularly, preside over the Lord’s Supper or baptize. Ordination is the rite by which the church sets apart a priest or minister for life. 


Are there non-ordained church jobs?

This book is not about “church jobs.” There are a lot of church jobs.  This book is about the ordained ministry.   Almost all churches hire an ordained minister as their leader, though some churches—particularly large ones—also hire people to work as non-ordained employees.  Churches sometimes hire non-ordained staff persons who serve as Christian Education directors, secretaries, lay youth workers, janitors, or worship leaders; notice that many of these “jobs” could be filled by either an ordained or an un-ordained person.  For instance an ordained person working with teens (or someone on the “ordination track”) would be called a “Youth Pastor.”   A person doing the same work as a full time non-ordained person would be called a “Youth Director.”  Same with worship:  An ordained person is usually called a “Minister of worship” while the non-ordained staff person might be called “worship director.”  Though a nurse and doctor seem to do similar things, we call one a nurse and another a doctor.  Same in the church.  Although many denominations have ten times as many “jobs” for ordained ministers then they do non-ordained staff persons, there are still lots of staff jobs in churches.  One of the early decisions you will need to make if you are headed for vocational service in the church is whether you are sensing a lifetime call to ordained ministry with all the rights of an ordained minister, or if you are satisfied being a staff person doing church work as a non-ordained lay person.  This book will help you understand the ordination work and determine if that is for you or you should rather pursue a staff job not headed for ordination. Non-ordained church jobs are vocational work as lay person and usually as a staff position.


The call to the ministry leading to ordination and a lifetime of service

All these terms may seem confusing but they are relevant to our thinking of the general ministry and the Ministry as a profession.  In this book we are dealing specifically with one vocation—the Ministry.  By that we mean a person who has an inner conviction that God has called them to the work of being a prophet and priest for God’s people, that call is confirmed by the church, and then leads to ordination for lifelong ministry.  The resulting service will almost always be related to the local church in one way or another. The ministry we are speaking of in this book is one that comes from a call to the ministry leading to ordination and a lifetime of service.



Follow up study and application


To Share:

1.  Tell about a time when you did ministry that was Christian in motivation, though not content.


2. Describe someone you know in the church who works on staff and gets paid but they are not an ordained minister


To Discuss:

3.  How can those called to the ministry make sure everyone else doesn’t think they are saying they are a better person then the average lay person?


4. What are the reasons most people who work in the church on staff are ordained—why do you think this is so?


To Do:

5.  Make a chart of these terms with their simply summary definitions to make it easy to recall them.


6. Write a single paragraph weaving together all these terms explaining the concept in this chapter