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All are called to ministry

‘RENEWAL OF THE CHURCH is seen by most thinking Christians to be essential, so that it becomes more and more the instrument of God in a relevant way in today’s world. In the 1968 Discipline of The Methodist Church in Malaysia and Singapore is a paragraph under the section “The Ministry” which needs to be made known to all church members. If taken seriously by members, church renewal could really begin.

“Ministry in the Christian church is derived from the ministry of Christ, the ministry of the Father through the Incarnate Son by the Holy Spirit. It is a ministry bestowed upon and required of the entire church. All Christians are called to ministry and theirs is a ministry of the people of God within the community of faith and in the world. Members of the Methodist Church receive this gift of ministry in company with all Christians and sincerely hope to continue and extend it in the world for which Christ lived, died and lives again. The Methodist Church believes that Baptism, confirmation and responsible membership in the church are visible signs of acceptance of this ministry.”

Here, stated concisely, are basic tenets of our Christian faith and some principles which constitute the reason for our organisation in various areas of concern. We can easily accept the fact that when we attend a worship service, we “enter to worship and depart to serve”. Unfortunately not enough of us have a real vision of what “presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice … which is our reasonable service” involves. is portion of the Discipline clarifies what we often call “the ministry of the laity”. We are all called to ministry, ordained ministers and lay people alike.

Being called to ministry within the community of faith, we must take responsibility for the education and nurture of the constituency; we must understand all that is implied in stewardship. Ministry in the world entails concern for the individuals who are lonely, lost and broken and also for the society in which individuals must live. Evangelism and missions are accepted as necessary by most, but if we sincerely hope to extend God’s Kingdom, far more giving of service and money for support of these areas of work is imperative.

Because we receive this gift of ministry in company with all Christians, each of us needs to exercise the ministry of reconciliation wherever there is understanding both within and outside the church. We do not always see eye to eye with regard to the method of worship or service. Each sincere Christian must finally act in the way he feels that God is guiding him to act. But action is imperative.

Only as we all realise that we are called to ministry and set about equipping ourselves to fulfil this ministry will the world at large take us or our Lord seriously.’ – MM, July 1970, p. 2 Editorial.

By Joyce Foster

■ The MCS Archives and History Library is located at #04-01 Methodist Centre, 70 Barker Road, Singapore 309936. Please call 6478-4775 if you wish to make a research visit. Research questions may be sent to: archive.history@methodist.org.sg

■ Web site: http://archives.methodist.org.sg