Congratulations on advancing to level 2! I wish I could use some boolean logic (yes, that’s a cool word) to send all you cheaters back to level 1. But since I’m not nearly that sophisticated, here’s a link to the first part of the series.
Today, I’m jumping into the main body of our study on lay ministry, as I seek to answer one simple question: WHY?
Why did Paul choose lay ministry?
Why is it so effective?
Why should you seek to apply it to your own life?
Paul’s ministry model is built on 3 key principles.
Raise your hand if you’re sick’en tired of FAKERS–now put it down because you look silly. Poll ten random people, from all walks of life, and they’re all gonna tell you the same thing. They want the REAL DEAL! Unless, of course, they’re buying handbags in New York.
One of my favorite tv shows is Pawn Stars. Every day, people line up to bring in their most prized possessions and hawk them for big money. The climax of every new article is when they determine if it’s real or not. Doesn’t matter if it looks authentic, smells authentic, has the perfect patina… If the expert determines that it’s not genuine, then it ain’t worth squat!
Nobody wants a fake, and that’s exactly what Paul understands when he sets up his ministry. Paul gains his credibility from the community by self supporting his ministry through tentmaking. In doing so, he removes the conflict between his own interests and the Gospel of God. There is no financial motive for his ministry. When he preaches, there is no offering plate and there is no audience that he has to satisfy. He is free to teach the entire word of God without having to worry about how his “supporters” will recieve his message.
Furthermore, when Paul ministers, it costs him. Time that he spends ministering is time that he could have spent working, enjoying family, walking the dog, you name it. Every peice of time that Paul spends ministering is a sacrifice of his personal time, a gift of love–now that’s Gospel Authenticity.
Who was Paul?
A Jew would identify him as a fellow Jew.
Upper class citizens could identify him as being highly educated, tri-lingual, a Roman citizen.
A working man would identify Paul as a laborer, a tentmaker.
Paul chose to become “all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22) so that he could reach and identify with as many people as possible.
How can you minister to the poor if you know that at the end of your shift, you’re going to get in your fancy car, with four doors and a full tank of gas, and drive back to the safe side of town?
How can you minister to the hungry if you just left a plate of food at Applebee’s?
I know these aren’t easy questions to ask, but if we want to see results in our ministry, then we have to ask the following: Who am I trying to reach? How do I identify with these people?
There are two distinct benefits that came out of Paul’s decision to model his “Christian life” in the marketplace. I’ll talk about them below in separate bullet points because I want to to be able to identify both.
- Paul modeled Christianity for the first time in history. This was 1 A.D. No one had ever seen a Christian before. They didn’t know that you have to wear skinny jeans and raise your hands when you worship. So Paul decided to show people how to live out the gospel–not just in the church, but in the marketplace. That’s right! Paul went to work every day and put in 8 hours of hard, honest work. Do you think that when you hired the apostle to fix your tent you got cheated? Or overcharged? Or the project was finished late? Are you a good example of a “Christian” in your workplace?
- Paul invents “lay evangelism“. New converts have it tough. They must immediately become unpaid, full time witnesses to the people around them. They go to church, make some crazy decision to follow God, and everyone at church is supportive of their decision. But then they leave the church and they immediately have to sell their new lifestyle to everone around them–their family, their friends, their coworkers. People are sure to ask them tough questions, doubt their sincerety and try to tempt them back into their old lifestyle. This is the working definition of lay evangelism. One of Paul’s purposes in ministry was to provide a tool set for new Christians–which included every single believer in that day. Paul sought to encourage these new believers and provide a model for them to follow as they went to battle every day.