“Ministry” is not divorced from “Mission”

The first word that springs to mind when I think of defining “ministry” is that of service, both of Christ and of others.

Ministry is best seen as service in our freedom having been motivated by our love for and friendship with Christ, and our love of our fellow human neighbours, rather than being derived our from yielding laboriously due to some sort of slavery to a hard taskmaster, ministry is something all Christians are called to become involved in doing, albeit in a potentially great number of diverse ways throughout our lives as Jesus’ disciples.

“Ministry” is not divorced to some sort of religious compartment separate from “mission”, but flows from, grows, and occurs, as a result of our partnership and cooperation with Jesus in fulfilling God’s mission (Missio Dei) to promote and proclaim the in-breaking reign of the Crucified and Risen Christ, which continues brings Gospel new hope, radical and transforming love, healing and justice into the world in our time and the future beyond it.

Our understanding of mission and what it is a defining lens through which we, as a “sent people” gain a clearer perspective upon which to perceive our ministry to the wider creation, as a servant people inspired by good neighbourly love to serve our human peers (both friends and enemies) through varieties of service we commonly call “ministries”.

Foster says: “The purpose of the church [is] the nurturing and forming of men and women to respond in effective faithfulness to the call of God to partnership with God’s work in the world. From this perspective, [it] consists of all the ways a community of faith [such as ICDF], under pastoral leadership, intentionally sponsors the awakening, shaping, rectifying, healing, and ongoing growth in vocation of Christian persons and community, under the pressure and power of the in-breaking kingdom of God” (Fowler, James. (1987). Faith Development And Pastoral Care. Fortress Press, Philadelphia, p.21).

In terms of our involvement in dance and other forms creative movement and related ministries, we do this in a diverse variety of artful and creative ways, drawing upon the inspiration and resources of God as well as those from our peers within the faith, and communicating that relevantly and in Gospel-informed responsiveness to the ever-changing exigencies of the world around us.

Through our art and our expression of good-neighbourly fellowship and community with others, we artfully communicate and prophetically help people reimagine, grasp and appropriate Christ’s alternative vision and hope for their future, counter to the enslaving, disempowering and dehumanising metanarratives of hopelessness that are offered them by a God-denying and violently oppressive world.

We do that artfully though things like dance ministry and inclusive fellowship, and loving service of others.

I intend to attend the Ghana conference to both participate in and benefit from the creative ministries of others, as well as to serve those gathered through artfully sharing with them about the relationship of, and potential of,  the arts, in communicating about, advocating for, and promoting God’s compassion, mercy and justice in their own living situations. Can the arts speak to such issues? Sharing stories about how that has occurred will be a key feature of what I share there as a network coordinator.

Grace and peace

Andrew Park

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