5 Questions Before Stepping Out in Ministry
Updated: May 2, 2018
The Lord doesn’t call everyone to vocational ministry, but be assured, all believers are ministers (1 Pet. 2:9). Following Christ means being called into ministry—to labor and work for the advancement of His Kingdom.
You may feel called to preach, start a specific ministry, visit someone in the hospital, or travel across the world to proclaim the glory of God. I’ll stop there with the examples. It would be impossible to list all the ways the Lord is speaking to and calling individuals in His church to ministry. So, wherever you are at and however the Lord may be calling you to advance His Kingdom, here are “5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Stepping Out in Ministry.”
Do you know and understand the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20)? Does what you desire to do help accomplish it? All ministry should come as a response to Jesus’ words at the end of the Book of Matthew. It worked that way for the original disciples. The Great Commission contains some of the last words spoken to them by Jesus. Upon His ascension back into heaven, the disciples gave their lives to fulfill what Christ had commissioned them to do. It should be no different for us. Do you feel the weight and responsibility of what our Lord has commanded us to do? Is answering its call the driving force behind the step into ministry you are considering making? Not recognition or to shore up some weakness you find in yourself? See, we are called to make disciples—this is what ministry is. Do you realize making disciples is often a slow, arduous, painful, and confusing process? You should also be able to answer how the step into ministry you are making directly, or indirectly, contributes to God’s goal—disciples who bring glory to His name.
Are you ready for battle? We have an enemy. One who, along with the powers of darkness who do his bidding, seeks to destroy our faith, lives, and eternities. Sadly, some Christians are of no concern to the devil. They have been lured to sleep by the world and their flesh. Their lives do little, if anything, to make an eternal difference in the lives of others. The devil wants their lives to continue on comfortably and without disruption—so they are distracted from giving time to what really matters. But you can be certain that when you step out in ministry—to make a difference in people’s eternities—he will take notice. It’s important to be ready. It’s common to find yourself surrounded by difficult circumstances once you step out in ministry. Relationships become strained, unforeseen pressures arise, and seemingly insurmountable hurdles pop-up in every area of your life. This is normal. The powers of darkness will stir up anything they can to discourage you from what the Lord has called you to. Make sure you have resolved to remain faithful and endure before you even begin.
Make no mistake, ministry is tough. The powers of darkness have people in bondage to sin and blinded to the glory of God.
Seeking to change that, and help make disciples of Jesus Christ, will not come easy. The enemy will not give up ground without a fight. When other people are used in the fight against you, remember who you are wrestling and fighting with. The real enemy is the devil—not the person being used. The Kingdom of God suffers great violence, and to advance it, you will need to be ready for battle. The powers of hell will come against you. But we have the most powerful weapon in existence—the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ!
What are your gifts? This goes deeper than answering what you are good at. Just because someone is good at something, or has a particular skill set, does not mean they are qualified or called to do what they may think they are. Sure, I know God uses our natural giftings. They are much needed in the local church and can even help us discern where and how we should be seeking to make disciples. But what I’m talking about can be found in chapter four of the Apostle Peter’s first letter. Verses 10-11 state, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” The Holy Spirit lives inside believers and is gifting them to work to make much of Jesus. Think of it this way. There is something that the Holy Spirit enables you to do, and as you are doing it, people are led to glorify God and into His presence. What gift has the Holy Spirit given to you that helps lead others to thank God and acknowledge His goodness? Trying several different areas of serving and ministering, and seeing where fruit pops up, can help you determine what your spiritual gift may be. You can also ask others. Often, they can identify what you do that makes their own hearts turn towards the Lord. That can provide great insight into what way the Lord is calling you to minister in.
Are you committed to a local church and to building the church? God gives His gifts to build up and benefit the church; Jesus says He will “build His church.” Any ministry we do should seek to add to and build the church. Our commitment to ministry and our commitment to our local church should go hand-in-hand. Before stepping out in ministry, it would be helpful to answer several questions concerning yourself and the local church. Are you committed to a local church? Do you pray for it and the gospel work being done there already? Are you generous towards your church with your time, talent, and resources? Are you submitted to spiritual authority? How does what you want to do in ministry build your local church or the universal Church? Do your brothers and sisters in Christ, along with your leaders, support what you are doing or seeking to do? Are they willing to help you accomplish it and stand beside you as you minister?
Are you willing to wait and be shaped? Sometimes when we sense the Lord calling us to step out in ministry, we are ready to start immediately. But the Lord is more patient than us. Stepping out in ministry often is preceded by a period of waiting. In this period the Lord shapes, breaks, and molds us. He prepares us for the work He has called us to. And it’s not easy. It is often very painful. He uncovers sinful motivations, hidden pride, and layers of selfishness. He teaches us to depend on Him—and to give Him all the glory. We truly become the clay in the hands of the potter during this season of waiting and preparation. It is also during this period where you should be desperate for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. If you already have received this gift, you should desire to be refilled, refreshed, and recharged. Jesus promised his disciples power for ministry—this comes from the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells His first disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit before they begin to fulfill the Great Commission (Acts 1:8). No matter how gifted someone is, their ministry will not have an eternal impact without the power of the Holy Spirit. We should expectantly and persistently cry out for Jesus to provide this power through our relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Additionally, you may need to learn how to do specific tasks before you are ready to step out and minister. And this takes time. You may need to learn how to serve in a certain capacity, how to prepare for weekly ministry, or make changes in your schedule and life that enable you minister in the way the Lord has called you to. Although it is true that we will never be fully prepared for the work the Lord has called us to, and that is by His design, sometimes it is wise to prepare our lives and hearts for the Kingdom-advancing work ahead of us. We can use this time to gather wisdom and glean insight from others. There may be things in our natural lives that need to be taken care of before we can step out in a more significant way.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (18) All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (20) Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (21) For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.