Ministers | Matthew 28:16-20

Since I’ve only been here for a month, you might say that Andrews United Methodist has a new minister. But our bulletin would beg to clarify; right at the top, before my name or anyone else’s, it reads:
“Ministers: Every member of the church.”

This is an interesting claim. It might make you wonder what the pastor gets paid for, if all the members are the ministers. It might also discourage a few people from joining the church, since it sounds like being a member means you might be called on to preach from time to time.

First, it might help to clarify what a “minister” is.

In the New Testament where we read the word “minister,” we are seeing a translation of the Greek word diakonos. So when Paul describes Tychicus as “the dear brother and faithful minister in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:21), that’s diakonos.

But diakonos also means servant. When Jesus tells the disciples, “whoever wants to become great must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26), there’s diakonos again.

“Minister” and “servant” are two closely related jobs. With that in mind, we might define a minister as someone who serves in the name of Christ.

Diakonos, in its various forms, shows up over 100 times in the New Testament. It’s almost unavoidable. Just like, for followers of Christ, the call to be a minister/servant is unavoidable. It comes on, sooner or later.

Second, let’s address the preaching part of being a minister.

St. Francis of Assisi is supposed to have called people to preach in this way:
“Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”

What this implies is that we can “preach” through our actions.

Here at Andrews UMC, I have been listening to a really good sermon for the past month. I’ve seen the followers of Christ here serve meals to the hungry, organize blood drives, and volunteer in food pantries. I’ve heard about them throwing birthday dinners for newcomers and give rides to those without cars. They care for the very old and very young and very sick.

When the members of our church serve, they minister. And the sermon I’m hearing from them is a really good one.

But St. Francis’ call to preach doesn’t end with our actions:
“…when necessary, use words.”

It can be really intimidating to talk about our faith, but at a certain point, it does become necessary to verbally preach the gospel.

But here’s the good news: It doesn’t have to be from a pulpit, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simpler, the better.

Ask yourself some questions like this:
“Why do I go to church?”
“How would my life be different without Christ?”
“What has God done for me?”

The answers to those questions are your way to preach the gospel using words. Think through those questions, and keep the answers close to your heart. Then, be ready; God will open doors in conversations, provide little chances for you to tell someone what Christ means to you.

Andrews UMC does have a new minister…
but there were 321 ministers here before I arrived.
They are preaching the gospel, loud and clear.
On occasion, they even use words.

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4 comments

  1. i remember one of your first sermons was about preaching and sometimes using words. it’s nice to look into your mind, even though you aren’t close anymore. i miss you, high reverend mary!

    1. Thanks, Anna! No better compliment than a sermon remembered. There is a coffee shop about to open across the street from the church here… makes me think of you and our coffees together! 🙂

  2. Gene Beasley · · Reply

    Isn’t this where the word Deacon comes from?
    A few years ago a lady in the church had died shortly before the service when Harry was making the announcement ( during one of our transitions ) he asked “How many of you came here for the first time because Helen had invited you to come ?” Hands were raised all over the church , mine included , and he simply said “Don’t tell me one person can’t make a difference.” I have never heard a more eloquent eulogy delivered.

    1. Gene: Yes, diakonos is also translated “deacon” in the New Testament in some places. Well done! We talked about that story this morning in our sermon discussion group – Helen, right? Very cool.

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