Monday, June 11, 2012

Going Into Full-Time vs. Part-Time Ministry

"In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world."
John 17:18

My last post dealt with who is called and qualified to go into missions, whereas this post will deal with who should go into full-time ministry vs. that of part-time ministry. The truth is that Jesus gave us all as followers of him the mission of going into the world to advance his kingdom. Lance Ford points out that when one says, "I'm in full-time ministry," it is really misguided because it implies that those who do not receive a paycheck from a church or organization are only in part-time ministry. It is basically the same as saying, "I'm a pro; you're just an amateur."

This is one huge factor that has hindered our churches and people on fully embracing a missional lifestyle in order to see the surrounding culture reached. There is nothing wrong with being paid in ministry, but when that attitude of professional vs. amateur carries over into the body it creates unnecessary borders that stifles the advance of the kingdom.

I have witnessed this in recent days within the organization I am serving with overseas as there is a heavy attitude of "career vs. short-term." Nothing wrong with the categories within themselves, but the problem has come in once again as this attitude of "career = professional and short-term = amateur." There is really nothing further from the truth and these manmade categories are really only hurting the advancement of the kindgom overseas.

We must remember that as believers we are all considered priest so as disciples of Christ we are sent on mission just as he was sent on mission. And team Jesus is just that a team made up of full-time ambassadors of Christ, regardless of the particular vocation you are in or the way you earn a paycheck. Jesus has "called" us all into full-time ministry so there really is no distinction. Sure as the body of Christ we have different roles to play in being a full-time player for Team Jesus, but each role is designed by God for the advancement of His Kingdom.


  1. I agree wholeheartedly about this misconception with full/part time ministry. While so called full time people definitely are at fault for perpetuating this wrong headed idea, those not in so called full time ministry often see themselves as not in ministry and are therefore lackadaisical in their missional lifestyle. Regarding your other comments, we should talk about those at your new office you mentioned in a previous tweet...

  2. I think the misconception is bred by the pattern of the sociological division of labor throughout history. Different people in a society specialize in different things. This mindset is perpetuated by a misunderstanding of such passages as 1 Cor 12. The Body of Christ may enjoy a diversity of gifts, but the real idea is that these gifts are to be used in ministry, not that some people are to be the professions and other people are to only do the secular things.

    So we have people who think along these lines: "I'm a merchant or a service technician, but that guy over there specializes in ministry. He does his job and I'll do mine." So people invest their time and effort to gain education in their field of work. "If I'm something other than a 'professional' minister, I'm not going to pursue education in ministry." The problem is that this fails to recognize that our specialized areas have some application in the ministry of the gospel and it behooves us as Christians to seek out that knowledge. For this reason we have been left in this world.

  3. I think that you both point out vital points here in that the paid workers often portray this attitude and in regards to a local church it should be the one equipping their people to embrace the roles of ministers in every profession. This is one among many reasons why I am so thankful for the Summit church as though not perfect, they are actively seeking to equip the people for ministry in all contexts of life.

    I think sometimes we just need to let the people know that they have this freedom and then they will start to embrace this fully. Here in S. Asia this is also a common attitude as you well know Kieth in that the lay people often think it is only the ordained ministers who can baptize, evangelize, etc. In this case it represents one of the sad realities of one reason there are still so many unreached people groups in a place like S. Asia.