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Christian ministry

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A ministry, in Christianity, is an activity carried out by Christians to express or spread their faith. 2003's Encyclopedia of Christianity defines it as "carrying forth Christ's mission in the world", indicating that it is "conferred on each Christian in baptism."[1] It is usually performed by members of a church to fulfill the church's mission. This is distinguished from the "office of ministry", to which specific individuals feel a certain vocation.[2] It can signify this activity as a whole, or specific activities, or organizations within a church dedicated to specific activities. Some ministries are identified formally as such, and some are not; some ministry is directed towards members of the church, and some towards non-members. See also Apostolates.

Age-specific Ministry

As churches attempt to meet the needs of their congregations, they often separate their members into groups according to age categories. Age-specific groups meet for religious study including Sunday school programs, fellowship, and other activities. These age divisions may include:

Advantages and disadvantages

There are several advantages to the concept of age-specific ministries.

  • Many parents / caregivers are glad to allow the church to be in charge of the spiritual enrichment of their children. Similarly, they are used to using programs for the development of their children such as weekday childcare, preschool, and grade school and enjoy the ability to continue a similar format in church.
  • These ministries allow churches to provide 'age-appropriate' activities and content to maximize spiritual education and growth as well as peer group fellowship.
  • Ministries often provide fellowship activities outside of the church service that encourage the involvement of non-church going friends and relatives.

Age-specific ministry does have certain disadvantages, mostly stemming from the separation of children from the primary church functions.

  • In terms of religious education, the 'socialization' of children into the faith community is one important approach that requires connecting the children and family with the wider congregation.
  • These ministries may increase the possibility of child abuse within the church as it does increase the amount of time children spend without the supervision of their particular parent or caretaker or the presence of the congregation at large. It is worth noting, however, that many churches hire certified teachers to fill these positions and most perform background checks on anyone that may come into supervisory contact with children.
  • Certain forms of these ministries reduce the role that "family life" plays in the development of children, because of the separation of differing age groups into differently facilitated programs. In some ministries, the children are also placed separate from the rest of the congregation, such as during Sunday school and youth programs. Many of these programs, however, take place at different times from the primary church service, and in many churches, only children of elementary school age and younger are separated from the main service to provide more relevant material to their age group.

An alternative to age-specific ministry gaining ground is the concept of inter-generational ministry, which seeks to include all age and peer groups in primary church functions.

Creative and performing arts

Nearly all churches feature some form of worship music, whether from a choir, orchestra, or worship band, whether accompanied or a cappella. Religious organizations also incorporate other forms of creative and performance arts into their services or programs. These may include:

  • automotive ministry, a large and growing form of ministry in which local Christian automotive enthusiasts use their cars as a tool of ministry and show them at car shows. The largest Christian Automotive Ministry is Holy Rollerz Christian Car Club (Holy rollerz).
  • Cowboy ministries such as Thousand Hills Cowboy Church in Kerrville, Texas, have sprung up around the country and feature informal services held in barns or arenas. They offer rodeo events which are free to the public throughout the week such as bullriding, roping, ranch sorting and equestrian events as a tool of ministry.
  • Worship ministry, with the most common forms being choir, orchestra, and contemporary praise and worship.
  • Drama and theatre ministry, which often comes in the form of both small scenes and skits performed for the congregation, and larger works such as Passion plays and Christmas dramas.
  • Creative movement, which generally incorporates pantomime and American Sign Language
  • Puppetry, including traditional and black light forms

Community Service and outreach

Many churches sponsor ministries designed to reach out others on a local and global scale, usually grouped under the heading of missions. There are many organizations which perform missions on a fully-funded and organized level, such as North American Mission Board, operated by the Southern Baptist Convention and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee ((UUSC).

However, some Christian churches and ministries have evolved to take on a larger role in the community service and global outreach programs. This is evidently exemplified by many of the Christian Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

Community service ministries may include a "soup kitchen", crisis center, food pantry, unplanned pregnancy center, senior visitation program, new parent support, Animal Chaplains, or a number of other specialized ministries.

Sacramental Ministry, Catholic Church

Theologians differentiate between Religious ministry and Apostolates. Ministry, for Catholics, pertains to the administration of the Sacraments, and their appropriate ministers are as follows:

Baptism:Any person (need not be baptized himself/herself). Preferably to be administered by a priest or deacon.

Confirmation:The Bishop, or a priest delegated by him.


Eucharist:Administered by Priests, Deacons, and, extraordinarily, the Lay. (Priests Consecrate the Eucharist, those appointed may administer it to others.)

Marriage:The spouses administer the sacrament to each other. (witnessed by the priest).

Holy Orders:Bishop.

Anointing of the suffering:Administered by a priest, Deacon.

A final, and most proper, use of the term "ministries" pertains to the reception of a minor order within the Sacrament of Holy Orders:

Acolyte (May Administer the Eucharist),


Lector (May read the Gospel, and preach the homily during Mass)



Exorcist, Porter, and Sub-Deacon are no longer administered within the Roman Rite as a minor order. In general, the minor orders are symbolic more than functional, as the candidate approaches priesthood. ' (Major Orders are diaconate, priesthood). Bishops are consecrated, not ordained, and are sacramentally priests, hierarchically bishops.

See also


  1. Brand, Eugene L.; Ulrich Kuhn (2003). "Ministry, Ministerial Office". in Erwin Fahlbusch, Jan Milic Lochman, Geoffrey William Bromiley, David B. Barrett, John Mbiti, Jaroslav Jan Pelikan. The encyclopedia of Christianity. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 540. ISBN 9004126546. 
  2. Matthew, Thomson K. (2004). Spirit-Led Ministry in the 21st Century. Xulon Press. p. 17. ISBN 1594673659. 
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