It is my desire to see every believer fulfilling the ministry that God has for them. In my experience, however, there are two main stumbling blocks ? either people are not aware of the giftings that God has given them, or they have an idea of their gift areas but do not know where to begin.
It seems that sometimes we feel that we have to wait until we have received a clear, definitive, all embracing word from the Lord before we do anything. But I would advise you to begin your ministry, right now, right where you are. Find a need and fulfil it – even if you do not think it is your ultimate ministry. After all, there is no need to receive divine revelation about the things so clearly spoken of in scripture.
To start with we have the Great Command of Jesus ? to love, ?Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbour as yourself? (Luke 10:27). This is your ministry to God and to others. The apostle John explains that this involves practical service, ?Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth? (1 John 3:18).
Everything you do, do for the Lord, no matter how practical or seemingly insignificant, it appears to be.
Faithful in small things
It is important to that we start by developing a servant attitude. Often what is needed most in ministry is practical service. Do these ?little things? with great joy and faithfulness. Do not draw attention to yourself – God will reward you, as Jesus says in the parable of the talents, ?Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master?s happiness!? (Matthew 25:21).
Don?t look on some small tasks as unimportant. I remember appointing myself to my first ?job? in KT ? and that was to collect and put away the hymn books that I saw laying around the church at the end of every service.
Often enthusiastic Christians come to me thrilled with their calling to ministry. They have a vision to be a pastor, an evangelist, a missionary or some other kind of ?major minister?. I always ask them about the fruit they have already produced in their ministry. Usually, my questions will focus on their cell ministry, as this is one of the most effective ways of discovering and developing ministry.
I am sometimes disappointed by the responses I receive, it appears that the cell ministry is not grand enough for some people. They seem to think that they will suddenly become an effective minister for Christ just as soon as they get some title, are appointed to lead a church or travel a thousand miles from home! The plain truth is, there is no other ministry than the ministry of Christ ? making, maturing and mobilising disciples. The cell ministry centres on these essentials, directing all our manifold gifts and talents toward the one great objective ? the Great Commission.
Don?t despise ?the day of small things?. Everything in the kingdom starts small ? even the baby Jesus! The essence of the ministry at Kensington Temple is carried in the cells. There is no need to think that you must graduate from the cell ministry, even if you do have a calling to one of the five major ministry gifts of Christ. If you are in a cell church, start doing the ministry in the cells, and keep on doing the ministry through the cells and just watch the results. You can multiply many, many disciples through the cells and grow into everything God has for you. If Jesus, the greatest minister of all time, spent the better part of his ministry developing his closest disciples and then releasing them on the world, why shouldn?t you do the same?
Ministry is doing the work of the church
The Holy Spirit is bringing a fresh appreciation of ?market place ministries? ? those called to serve Jesus full-time in their home, their place of study, or employment. Real ministry is not just doing work in the church but doing the work of the church in the wider community. That is where we must act as salt and light and draw people to Christ.
That is why you should be prayerful about what job you take or what profession you choose. This is the main location for your ministry, and the place where you can be most effective for Christ. Your home, neighbourhood, place of study or workplace, will probably be your best opportunity to reach those who would never normally come to a Christian meeting. Jesus ministered both in the synagogues and the market places of his day. He performed some of his most powerful miracles in the public place where the multitudes were.
Preparing yourself for ministry
Make every effort to train and prepare yourself in your gifting. Enrol in a training programme that will help you develop your calling. Spend time with people who have the same gift and learn from their experiences. Let their wisdom and knowledge rub off on you. Study what the Bible says about your particular gifts and about the use of the Holy Spirit?s gifts in general.
Ask trusted friends if they have seen God?s blessing upon you in any area of ministry.
Discovering God?s plans is not a logical pursuit. Rather, it is a matter of revelation which flows from the relationship you are building with him. So through prayer and waiting on the Lord, keep seeking him to guide you, until you receive a clear word from him.
The Great Commission
We have already spoken about the ?Great Commission? which is to evangelise the world and make disciples of all nations. But, it is necessary to continue to stress that this is the one, over-arching call upon all our lives.
Everything we do must be in obedience to the command of Jesus, given in Matthew 28:18-20, ?Then Jesus came to them and said, ?All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.?
This scripture sets out clearly and unmistakably what the ministry really is. It is about making, maturing and mobilising disciples of Jesus Christ. This is Jesus? command to every one of us. It is not just for the so-called full-time ministers, as we are all full-time for the Lord! Neither is it just for those who carry special gifts and anointings of the Holy Spirit, because we are all anointed to follow Jesus and to serve him.
People seem to believe that to be successful in business or political life, to become someone important in the world, is an adequate substitute for obeying the Great Commission. It is not. True success is measured by obedience to the things Jesus has called us to do. Unless your life is lived for the express purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission, then you have made a ?great omission? in your life. You will have failed in God?s purpose for you ? whatever else you may have achieved for him.
The same applies to those who consider themselves pastors or ministers, that is, leaders of congregations. Many people want to become pastors or full-time leaders because they wrongly identify the ministry with these things or they believe that is the only way they can be effective for God. Sadly, they are mistaken. In fact, many people who take the (often unnecessary) step of being ordained by a denomination, or leave their former profession, to go full-time in the ministry fail to do the work of the ministry itself. They fail to raise up the body of Christ to do the work of Christ ? that is the real ministry.
Don?t fall into that trap ? you are in the ministry, right now if you are a believer. God expects you to fulfil this ministry. Right where you are, you can grow many disciples and bear much fruit, and your fruit will remain. We have many so-called lay leaders who are more effective and are bearing more fruit than many people in the formal ministry. Through the cell ministry people are leading hundreds of believers, many of whom they have won for Christ and are discipling for the Lord. Some of our cell leaders have more people in their groups of cells than the average pastor has in British or European churches today.
If Christ has truly called you to one of the five ministries in Ephesians 4:11, get busy with the ministry now. Lead people to Christ, disciple them in the faith, and release them to do the same. That?s exactly what Jesus did, and it is still his ministry today. Trust the Lord, that as you do this, he will raise you to the levels of leadership that are consistent with your calling.
Developing your ministry
Once you have discovered all this and committed your life to these things, you will immediately want to find ways of serving with your gift and developing yourself in the ministry. Make every effort to train and prepare yourself in your gift and calling. Let me emphasise, once again, these four key elements of preparation:
1. Enrol in a training programme that will help develop you.
2. Spend time with people who have the same gift and learn from their experiences.
3. Study what the Bible says about your particular gifts and about the use of the Holy Spirit?s gifts in general.
4. Pray and wait on the Lord, seeking for him to guide you.
The cell church vision
The cells are the ideal place for you to be discipled personally and to grow in the ministry of Christ. They are the backbone of the church, the basic structure though which the ministry happens.
Each cell group is a kind of mini-church, a microcosm of the whole. That means the most important aspect of church life, alongside the main services, is the cell. In some respects, the cells are even more important, because the cells release God?s people into their ministry.
The cells accept full responsibility to grow the church. They are not just fellowship groups, prayer groups or Bible study groups. They are all these things and much more beside. The cell agenda includes every aspect of church life and ministry.
The cells evangelise the lost, consolidate new believers, encourage disciples, train leaders and care for the needy. That is why the cells are so important and that is why they are crucial for the development of the ministry of the body of Christ.
The cells are not just an alternative to mid-week meetings of the church. Nor are they just another meeting in the week ? just a small group meeting, rather than a large group meeting held on a Sunday. Cells are a group of people who are in close, daily contact with each other and who are committed to working together to grow as disciples and to become disciple makers of others. The cells may have just one formal meeting a week, but cell life extends far beyond that.
To be part of a cell means that you have a group of fellow-soldiers and fellow-workers around you, who are committed to you, to your growth as a Christian and to your development as a leader.
The cells reach out to those outside the Christian faith and build up those who are already believers. This kind of activity happens in the open cells which grow and expand with every new person coming to Christ.
Alongside that, the cells grow and develop new leaders. These leadership cells train new cell leaders and encourage the planting of new cells. The leadership cells usually remain together for some considerable period of time, providing a consistent level of care and support for the new or emerging leaders. That way people can soon become confident in their leadership, knowing there is adequate support and supervision for their ministry.
Therefore, the cells are the fundamental unit of pastoral care, evangelism and training in the church, and they are the basic context in which you can fulfil your ministry. They are how, in practice, the church reaches out to those who need Christ – the hurting and the needy. They are where the true ministry takes place.
The sky is the limit!
Because the cells are so effective in reaching the lost, building disciples and training new leaders, there is almost no limit to how your ministry can grow, as you become a faithful cell leader.
As you multiply your cells, you develop your own leadership team of 12 people who have their cells. You can then encourage them to grow their own 12 leaders, and the process goes on. This way you could soon be leading many hundreds (eventually thousands) of people alongside your daily work and family commitments. That really is possible, and is happening in cell churches today!
This is the ideal process by which people can grow and make full proof of their ministry. The fivefold ministry grows and develops through this real-life training. In Kensington Temple, we are seeing every single ministry gift of Christ emerge from the cells, touching not just London but the whole nation, not to mention overseas.
As the body of Christ becomes fully mobilised, the multitudes can be reached and nations discipled, just as Jesus said. But, this in only possible as every believer plays his or her part. The modern Western world has yet to see what a fully deployed church of disciples is capable of achieving for God: multitudes of disciples on fire for God, making, maturing and mobilising other disciples.
To begin to achieve this we must all work together, taking personal responsibility for the life, health and growth of the church. We must be prepared to be discipled by our leaders and to be trained to become disciple-makers of others.