Why this is not a ministry.

A couple of days ago over at SSM’s place someone asked why people like SSM and me and CL and David Collard  not start a ministry. I commented back that I am unqualified, (while CL cracked up).

Before I go on why this is not a ministry, today’s lectionary has this to say.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

12But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; 13esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. 15See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. 16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise the words of prophets, 21but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22abstain from every form of evil.

23May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

25Beloved, pray for us.

26Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. 27I solemnly command you by the Lord that this letter be read to all of them.

28The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

  1. The term ministry, like gift, is over used and over spiritualizes what is the plain duty of all Christians, in leadership or without. I am aware that there is a priesthood of all believers, but not all lead: not all are elders. But all work — in fact we are to encourage all to work.
  2. Ministry is no more valuable than other forms of service. It is no more valuable than secular service. All jobs need to be done to a high standard.
  3. I try (and only rarely succeed) to make comments and notes that are of a reasonable standard here. As such, I stick generally closely to the text — though at times I have not — and some days I say things that are more insightful, and on other days things that are less unpopular.
  4. But this is not ministry. It is me making public the kind of exegetical notes and political comments that are plainly obvious.

The role of a leader inevitably involves dealing with other people’s problems, and yes, I am in that kind of work, but within another profession and within the limitations of that craft. My “ministry” is like a cobbler or the girl who made my afternoon coffee.

The way that the church sustains its arguments, its rigor, and its beauty is that most people are not professional. Instead, they do what they love. They blog about what they love or they practice what they love. The quality of the very best amateur (unpaid) artists is as good or superior to that of paid people.  It is the testing of the intelligent lay people that keeps pastors in check — and bishops, for that matter.

This is not ministry. My thoughts are nowhere near perfect, and my wisdom limited. The blog does comment on the lectionary — true — but that gives it no authority. Every word I say may be in error.

But this place forces be to the scripture daily, and allows me to vent on subjects that are in the post modern sphere of silence in my town. Take from it what you will. Call it anything, but do not make it more than the equivalent of the journal that laymen — puritans, quietists and contemplatives have kept, on the same passages, in the same cycle, for the last few hundred years.

In fact, taking it as that is too much.