What About Ministry Outside of the Church?

By Mark D. Roberts

November 27, 2018

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-13

In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we focused on the fact that, in Ephesians 4:11-13, the leaders in the church are to equip all of Christ’s people for ministry, “so that the body of Christ may be built up.” The purpose of ministry, as stated here, is the upbuilding of the church. In particular, ministry happens so that the church might grow in unity, maturity, and stature.

A woman with her fingers folded in front of her face, thoughtful.But what if your primary ministry is outside of the church? What if your ministry, as you understand it, is not obviously connected to the church of which you are a member? What if your ministry is in your workplace, your school, or your home? How does the teaching of Ephesians 4 relate to you? Or does it imply that all real ministry exists only for the building up of the church?

I fear that sometimes we pastors think and talk about ministry mainly or only as that which obviously contributes to the growth of our particular church. Either intentionally or unintentionally, our language devalues or even denies the existence of ministry that happens outside the walls and programs of our church.

This is an understandable error. But it is an error nonetheless. To limit the ministry of Christ’s people to obvious church ministry is to misunderstand both church and ministry.

What I’ve just said will take some explaining. I’ll say more in future devotions. But, for now, let me be clear in saying that Ephesians, when rightly understood, highly values those particular acts of ministry that contribute obviously to the upbuilding of the church. Yet it does not limit ministry to these acts. On the contrary, Ephesians calls us to “exist” for the praise of God’s glory, to live our whole lives as people who have been created anew in Christ, to walk at all times in the good deeds God has for us. The things we do in service to our church are wonderful and valuable. But our ministry extends far beyond the institutional church as we serve the Lord in every facet of life.

So, no matter what you’re doing today, no matter the work you will do, do it for the Lord, for his purposes and glory. This is your ministry.

Something to Think About:

How do you think about your ministry? What do you do as a minister of Jesus Christ?

In what ways do you contribute to the multifaceted growth of your church?

How has your church equipped you for your ministry beyond the walls and programs of the church?

Something to Do:

Today, as you begin your work, tell the Lord that you are serving him in your work today. Remind yourself of this truth throughout the day. Then, at the end of the day, reflect on what you experienced.


Gracious God, once again we thank you for calling us into your ministry, no matter who we are or what we do in life. It is an honor to serve you in all of our work.

Help me, I pray, to offer my work to you this day. Be present with me as I work, through your Spirit. Use me to further your purposes on earth today. Amen.


Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
Work for God: Called Out of the Ministry

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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