Thursday, March 31, 2005

"Christian Ministry...

...Is the public activity of a baptized follower of Jesus Christ flowing from the Spirit's charism and an individual personality on behalf of a Christian community to proclaim, serve, and realize the kingdom of God." - Thomas O'Meara

"Mininistry can be defined as "meeting needs with love." -Doug Fields

"Worship, edification, and outreach through evangelism and service - these constitute the mandate of the church... Thereby we bring glory to the triune God." -Stanley Grenz

"The service or work of sanctification performed by the preaching of the word and the celebration of the sacraments byt those in Holy Orders or in determined circumstances by laity. The New Testament speaks of a variety of ministries in the Church; Christ himself is the source of ministry in the Church. Bishops, priests, and deacons are ordained ministers in the chruch." -Catechism of the Catholic Church

So yeah, I have a paper due soon in which I need to define ministry, and explain that definition. The first quote is from one of our course textbooks, the second from Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, and the others are familiar. I noticed as I began this assignment that I don't currently have a working definition of ministry, which can cause trouble because I am a minister.

As I look at the above definitions none seem satisfactory (especially the Catechism's). O'Meara and Grenz seem closest to what I inately think is ministry. O'Meara captures an important point in 'flowing from the Spirit's charism' and Grenz does as well when naming ministry a 'mandate'. Yet, I'm not sure how I feel yet that O'Meara qualifies ministry as something done for the Church's sake. Doug I assume is deeper than his definition supposes, but probably dumbed it down for his audience (that includes me). The Catechism is too hierarchical, and treats the majority of the body as an after thought (that includes me again).

It seems the definition should include the following elements (whether named specifically or contained inherently): triune God, community, service, grace, reciprocity, open to all, just, commanded, and empowerment. It also seems appropriate that because 'ministry' as a subject is passionate and graceful the definition should be passionately and gracefully written, not dry, bland or subdued. And that is the real kicker, when defining ministry one is trying to define a word that has been defined so many times before, but in a way that is unique and appropriate for the context (that's kinda an apt metephor for life as well).

Additionally, the definition ought to be appropriate in all situations. Youth ministry, feeding the hungry, sunday school, public service, sunday worship, etc.


At 3/31/2005 3:17 PM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

I would include the sacraments in your list of components to minsitry. This is a shame that an anabaptist is telling a catholic to include the sacraments, but welcome to the 21st century. By including them, ministry, although not for or even always in the church, is necessarily equated to the work of the church. Thus, the idea of doing/being church without doing minsitry/evangelism becomes meaningless but also, and just as important, doing ministry outside the church becomes impossible.

At 4/01/2005 10:16 AM, Blogger Dan Baker said...

Great point Jake. Adam, I like the last point you hint at. HTis is something that has been defined much. There is a contrast of a broad definition and a specific definitionn that you will need to look at. Some of the difficulty is when you might apply a broad definition to a specific situation and vice versa. PSecified definitions make the issue more clear, while never seeming to suffice in the broader context.

Back to Jake, I agree that qualifying ministry within the church has great pdegree (Augustine and others) and give an element of checks and balances to ministry outside teh church as well as to those in the church to do ministry, It is important not to limit ministry to what the church (the establishment) initiates, or necessarily ordains.

At 4/01/2005 12:04 PM, Blogger adam said...

Thanks for making me feel real dumb.

Honestly though the sacraments are intrical to my definition, but I excluded them for the purposes of this board. I'm always weary of thrusting my Catholic belief into a different context (which is exactly why before writing this comment I just left a gargantuan post about the Pope).

I agree whole heartedly to your concept of 'within the church'. However this becomes tricky, especially in the Catholic church, with the holy orders. Because though ministry does lie within the church it does not belong to the orders. Vatican II brought us the lay apostolate (comparable to the priesthood of all believers, but you gotta believe they wouldn't call it that). Yet the church doesn't function parrallel to these beliefs- really this is all an internal struggle.


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