My husband and I love ministry. We are coming up on 18 years of doing ministry together, and about 20 + years of being in ministry of some capacity. It’s important to us, and although there have been rough times, it has been such a great adventure. We are currently heading towards our 7 year mark as lead pastors at our current church and God has laid on our hearts some very big steps to take with the ministry here. We’ve been praying and seeking God and getting excited, and sharing our vision with our church.
Recently God laid a sermon on my heart and I shared it with my husband. We sat at the table for hours discussing what could happen if we could get our church of 50 or so people to grab hold of the vision of 1 Peter 2:9. “You are a chosen people. You are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”
If we could convince them that they are the priests, under Jesus, the High Priest, our church could grow exponentially. In the Old Testament, priests had to take charge of their tabernacles. They had to work hard to move it as the Israelites traveled, they’d set it up, tear it down, pack it properly. Then they’d slay and butcher the sacrifices, and clean up the blood afterwards. They would minister to the people in the tabernacle, and like Samuel, they’d minister in their community. But then Jesus came, sacrificed once and for all and with that the levitical priesthood was no longer needed. Their sacrifices held no power, and Jesus transferred that honor to us. WE became the royal priesthood. And as modern day priests, we should be setting up the church each week… bringing in friends and family, neighbors and co-workers, filling the seats that sit empty. We should be preparing the place, praying over each service. It is our responsibility to pack it up properly, to take the sermon each week and carry it to the community, traveling the sermons of grace and healing, salvation, and freedom to the places you travel next. The ancient priests did not sit in a service and wait to be fed. They ministered. They came into the holy place with the idea that they were there to minister.
Americans every week leave churches never to return with the mindset of “I’m just not being fed there.” When Christians come and sit and are completely content being consumers and not contributors, we are failing our churches. It won’t matter what church you go to, big or small a church full of consumers is an unhealthy church. It’s nearly universal in churches all over that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the church… and what remains usually falls on the Pastor.
Like I said, we enjoy doing ministry. It is a strong passion of ours, and we count it an honor and a privilege to serve. But we create an unhealthy church when we fail to promote the need for members to come alongside us and participate in the ministering. Pastors ARE priests, they are not exempt from this, but because they are willing to do so much of the work within the church does not exempt the believers from doing their part.
A few days before the sermon I got to preach at the church, I had a dream, one I felt was 100% God’s vision. In the dream I had preached but I had no recollection of doing so. I kept asking Pastor what it was like, and apparently I had been very upfront and rather stern in my sermon. I began to worry that the people would be upset and I was fearful they would misunderstand and think I was angry or overly critical but Pastor remind me that God had taken over and preached through me, and that was why I had no recollection of standing before them. Then pastor asked, “What did you think you were doing if you weren’t preaching?” And in my mind I was outside the church in the middle of a raging river where waves were crashing over people who could not swim, and could not find their way out. I was pulling as many as I could out of the river and onto the shore. I had a strategy, I was going at it with zeal, but SO MANY were slipping through my fingers. I just could not get to them. I could not convince them on my own to swim to shore and so they were drowning, dying right before my eyes. And I kept turning towards the church screaming for the church to come help me. I was left wondering why they sat in the church knowing so many were drowning outside their walls and if only I could convince them to come out and help, oh what a difference that would make. I just couldn’t do it on my own.
So as the dream continued, my husband had been staring out the church windows as I told him about the raging river and all the lost souls within it. He said, “Because of what happened in this church service today, look at what is happening out there.” and he pointed me toward the window. And outside I saw that same raging river and so many in my town and county were being beaten by these waves, but among them were my church family. They were pulling them to safety one by one, two by two. So many were being saved. My husband then turned to me and said, “So now, we gather the towels, the blankets, the bedding, the supplies and we get prepared for the people to bring them inside to be ministered to.”
You see, the Pastor IS a priest. He still goes out and ministers outside his church walls, but he was never meant to do it alone. His main job is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. (Ephesians 4:12). To help the church members realize their true potential, to teach them, encourage them, and to equip them to minister… but you have to be willing to minister. You have to be willing to be the royal priesthood. For you are a chosen people, You are His possession and YOU have been called out of darkness and into the light, you know the way!
I know we can save no one, the saving power is in Jesus alone. But, They won’t see Him if we won’t reach out. They won’t feel it if we don’t give Him it out. They won’t come, if they aren’t invited.
It is a biblical mandate to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19,20) None of us are exempt from this great commission. And yet so many leave it up to missionaries and pastors. This was never the way God intended the church to be.
But you’re not alone. This end of verse 20 says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” This was not an empty promise. The last thing Jesus said before He ascended into heaven was that he’s send a comforter. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8,9)
We have the holy spirit to empower us to be bold when we don’t feel we can approach the subject to our friends. We have the Holy spirit to embolden us to reach out to a dying and hurting community with the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have the resources within the Holy Spirit that can heal the broken hearted,overcome the damage done by abusive backgrounds, encourage the depressed to courageously move forward, stimulate the lonely to reach out, revitalize discouraged teens and children with a new and holy energy and introduce hope into the lives of countless people who feel rejected and alone. And the tragedy is, we don’t utilize it. The silence in the church is deafening. We have the Spirit, and we are hoarding it. (as if we ever could!).
So, would you save them if you could? If you saw people drowning in their sorrow would you save them if you could? If you saw people sinking into despair would you save them if you could? If you saw the culture around us begin to devour young people by the handfuls and YOU had the answer to save them, would you give what you had? You CAN save them. You aren’t the savior (obviously) but you know Him. You don’t have the power on you own, but he gave it to you. It starts with just one person who decides to be a spirit inspired, supernaturally empowered, priest who will engage in the Great commission to reach people with the life changing message of the Lord of all Lords, Jesus Christ! They won’t see it if we won’t go. Again, they won’t feel it if we don’t give it out. They won’t come, if they aren’t invited. Will you be a priest in this royal priesthood? Will you save them by giving them the message of the cross?
If you’re willing, begin praying for Jesus to revitalize your heart. Find time in the day to set aside all other prayer requests and specifically pray for the spirit to give you boldness in this area. Leave me a comment if you’re willing to make a change and live as a royal priesthood (maybe you’re living in, Praise God! I’m believing for your life to overflow onto those around you!)
If you feel like you’re the one drowning, can I introduce you to the only one who can save, Jesus. Will you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to talk to you about a proven way to improve your life.
And if you’d like to hear the sermon our church heard this past week, you can hear it here. It’s titled “Priesthood of the Saints”