Called to Ministry Pt. 4

A Particular People- God’s “College of Character”

Envision a person that decides to pursue higher education by auditing only courses they are interested in, from professors they like, from different colleges and universities. Along the way they do learn and make friends in the various classes they attend. However, what would a Dean of Students say to that person if after four years that person came and demanded a degree? I think it would go something like this, “Well first you need to apply and identify yourself with this institution. This is so that we can track your courses and credit your progress. Secondly, you need to know that there are prerequisites that are necessary for a degree and you need to take them in order to show a level of proficiency.” “But you’re stifling the spirit of learning!” replies the student. “I just want to grow and learn.” The Dean replies, “Well if you want to continue that way you are free to do so, but don’t expect that you’ll ever graduate”

This too often is how “ministry” is viewed today, serving in various ministries, both outside and inside the local church, but really never fully committing to the church. The church is God’s College of Character. This is where the prerequisites and fundamentals are proven and accredited. This requires identification with a particular group of individuals. Just like attending a college or university, you have to apply and associate. Now the “local church” is very similar to higher education in that there are a multitude of options, location, atmosphere, student life, standards of education, etc., etc. The point is that you’ve got to commit, and commit to one institution for some length of time for accreditation to be awarded. It’s within a particular people that God works through the process to make a person “credible” for ministry. But far from associating with a cold impersonal institution we associate with a living organism, the body and bride of Christ. We fellowship with, minister to, and receive ministry from real people all of us experiencing the grace of God.

(Addendums, provisos, and quid pro quos: I’m not suggesting that “Para Church” ministry isn’t necessary in the Kingdom of God. Or that serving in such ministries isn’t serving the Kingdom. Nor am I suggesting that the local church possesses ALL the means of equipping for ministry. Seminaries, missions organizations, servant evangelism opportunities (like Crisis Pregnancy), all equip in their own way. But the equipment ultimately should buildup the local church, and the fruit of that equipment should be evaluated within the context of the local church. All these things may be a means of personal growth, but God has uniquely designated the local church as the arbiter of character.)

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