And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth (Joel 2:28-30 NIV).
A Vision for Ministry
As Pentecostals, today is our time to see the visions, to dream the dreams and to prophesy as God’s Holy Spirit is poured out upon us. What is God’s vision for His church? I believe that as the “laos of God” (His people) we must move toward a ministry for every believer. From the time I accepted Christ I have had a personal desire to make my life count for Him. I want to make a difference in my neighborhood, my community and my world. As a layman, I face the reality that I am not “called to preach” in the traditional way but I am still to be God’s ambassadors and minister.
I think it is time to stop talking about what we ought to do and just go do it! We must open the doors of our churches and go out [instead of just gather in] for ministry and service. I’ve often thought of how great it would be if every church declared a moratorium on meetings and sent the people out equipped and prepared to offer Christ to the world. What do you think would happen? Just think about it! Spirit-filled believers dispersed for mission and ministry into the highways and byways of our world! This will never happen if we just sit in our churches waiting for the world to come to us. A pastor told me just recently that before year’s end he is gathering the people for the traditional Sunday morning worship service. But rather than the usual “in house” service, he is asking his church to take the “service” to the community by visiting the lonely, the hurting, the sick and the impoverished. He is going to take them all out visiting on Sunday morning. What an idea!
What I just described above is a good example of the cooperative effort that must take place between the pastor and the congregation. We must become partners in ministry. What does this mean? It means a place for service and ministry for everyone. It is more than just doing a few church tasks. It is an attitude, an ethos, something that flows out through all believers in the church. If the laity of the church become true partners in ministry with the clergy the result will be ministry that will be shared between them.
A Vision for the Local Church and Staff Leaders
The church can become a saving station—a place where love abides and all people can find salvation, healing, holiness and safety. Many times when I am doing a church ministry conference I will ask the question, “Are you willing to accept whomever God sends through the doors of your church?” Our local congregations must be a station of fellowship where all people feel included, loved, and valued.
Next, the church can become an empowering station—a place where vital and exciting opportunities for worship and learning are offered. The “empowering” church disciples and trains its members. It will have programs of ministry for the young, old, men, women, boys, girls, married, and singles—all God’s children.
Next, the church can become an equipping and sending station—a place where we equip people for ministry and send them out into the community and world for mission and ministry. Equipping the saints for ministry is one of our most challenging tasks. Every church should have an evangelism leadership team—people who are dedicated, who have caught the vision, and are capable of teaching others in evangelism.
Lastly, the church can become a community outreach station—a place where programs are offered for youth groups, men’s ministry, women’s groups, community agencies, recovery groups, and assistance for those with immediate survival needs. This “community outreach” church cares about the community in which it lives.
Habakkuk stood at his watch post and here is what God told him:
Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. (Habakkuk 2:2-3 NIV)
We are given this time and this vision—and we should write it in big bold letters. Lift it high for the entire world to see! Let us claim the vision and lift high the cross together, as partners in ministry.