1. Can commonly be done by ‘Living Church Ministries‘ who haven’t necessarily been cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Yes, a pastor can ‘minister’ never having actually been regenerated by the Holy Spirit – having not actually yet experienced the cleansing and renewal of the Holy Spirit.
2. Is seen as an option rather than something that all Christians are to be engaged in. In early church times, everyone was involved in ministry – which is probably seen as a sign of having undergone a salvation experience. Those who see ministry as an option haven’t considered that there is always a role for anyone to play in the Kingdom of God. To serve should be considered a fruit of the Spirit.
3. Is more a noun – a thing of status, whereas in the earliest day it was a verb – a function. When ministry is a function incorporated into our life itself, we have a direct line of communion with the Lord. If it is a status, however, we do our works for the Kingdom in vain, which is not to say that God won’t use them.
4. Is no longer a shared activity as it was almost always in the early church. Ministry nowadays is very often done individually. Those who engage as teams honour how church was done from the earliest days. We need to remember that those who are still on the journey to faith need to see how we “love one another” in the actual midst of life.
5. Requires “authorisation” and follows more a secular model. In the early church authorisation always seemed to follow ministry – a deed done by faith. When we go forth “in the Spirit” we trust the Spirit and no human authority should clamp down on such a thing unless it’s unsafe, immoral, inappropriate or unbiblical. If a truly regenerate person follows a leading of the Spirit they are acting in obedience and they should be encouraged.
6. Intellect carries more weight than character. That flies in the face of the biblical worldview. Character, and giftedness, was always more important in the early New Testament church. This, I find a personal frustration, but I also honour the fact that God can refine us and sanctify us even more through our studies. But Degrees without character and giftedness are a waste of time and will prove vain.
7. Is very often led by young and inexperienced pastors, but the First Century church, and much of time since, church leadership was set apart for experienced people. Young people, especially in this day, are much more charismatic and attractive than those in their 40s, 50s and 60s, but we miss so much of the grace embodied in experienced persons when we promote those in their 20s and 30s to senior positions – especially when they have had few life experiences of suffering. Our gospel is a gospel of being sanctified out of suffering and of service out of that suffering.