Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Welcome to The Daily Prayer Team messages, each day includes a passage of scripture, a reflection and a prayer. Sponsored by Saint John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
But we beseech you, brethren, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.
I Thessalonians 5:12-15
As we have discussed previously, the word “ministry” means a form of service. Sunday school is a ministry that serves by teaching children the Orthodox faith. The choir is a ministry that leads the faithful in worship. The Philoptochos is a ministry that serves the poor in the community at large. Imagine if everyone served in at least one ministry. Imagine how powerful that would be for a church community. Imagine how many people could be served both inside and outside of the community if everyone was involved in one ministry.
It is no secret that a small minority of the people are doing most of the ministry work in a parish. Most people who are heavily involved with ministries are members of more than one. Those heavily involved in ministries oftentimes suffer from burnout or pull back from ministries because they get too time intensive. These statistics do not bode well for a community that wants to maintain ministries, let alone add new ones.
There are many people who attend worship services who are not involved in any ministries of the church. They come, they worship and they leave. While just coming for worship I don’t think would be considered sinful, it certainly is not meeting the Great Commission to go and spread the faith. The faith gets spread most effectively when we seek to spread it collectively.
One of the key elements in growing a community is the understanding that we are not merely called to be “consumers”, people who come to church each week and consume a “product.” Rather, we are called to be “producers”, people who contribute to the ministries of the church, helping to strengthen the community as well as helping to spread the Word outside of it.
In most communities, the members who are actually involved in the “producing” of something through the ministries is probably a minority. In the community I currently serve, there are nearly 1,000 adults who call the parish their home. Imagine if there were 1,000 people available for ministries. We could have 50 separate ministries with 20 people in each. We could create ministries we haven’t even conceived of yet, knowing that there would be people to lead them.
Ministries get created with ideas the members bring. For instance, one new ministries could be a knitting club, where people come together one day a week to knit and have fellowship. The knitted items could be donated to a charity. And there is a new ministry that involved service and fellowship.
There are probably hundreds of ministries that a church could choose from, with ministry being defined as a Christ-centered group of people working in the church, seeking to spread love, engage in worship, helping out in the community, helping members to learn about the faith, and serving others.
The key to ministry is not the mission statement, or even the exhortation from the priest or parish council members. The key to ministry is a willingness on the part of the people to bolster already existing ministries and to establish new ones.
Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord, give praise, O servants of the Lord, you that stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God! Praise the Lord for the Lord is good; sing to His name, for He is gracious! For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel as His own possession. For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and on earth. Psalm 135: 1-6
Again imagine if everyone was involved in a ministry at your church. Please do your part and get involved in one ministry the Church.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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